Falcons Lose Punter to Injury, Sign Ex-Georgia Bulldog

Cameron Nizialek

Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images Kicker Rodrigo Blankenship of the Georgia Bulldogs is congratulated by holder Cameron Nizialek after Blankenship kicks a field goal in overtime of the College Football Playoff National Championship game against the Alabama Crimson Tide on January 8, 2018.

On Tuesday the Atlanta Falcons waived second-year punter Sterling Hofrichter with an injury designation and signed former Georgia punter Cameron Nizialek. The unspecified injury is a tough break for Hofrichter, who was a seventh-round pick of the Falcons in 2020 and served as Atlanta’s punter last season, averaging 42.5 yards per kick on 56 punts.

“Sterling, he’s not healthy,” Falcons coach Arthur Smith told D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “He’ll rehab. It’s not the end of the road for Sterling. We needed the roster spot because we had to add a healthy punter.”

The Falcons Worked Out 3 Punters on Monday

The punter Atlanta chose to add is Cameron Nizialek, 26, who spent the first three weeks of the 2020 season on Atlanta’s practice squad after punting for the Atlanta Legends of the AAF in 2019.

According to Aaron Wilson, who covers the Houston Texans and the rest of the NFL, the Falcons also looked at two other punters with more NFL experience, those being Matt Wile and Colby Wadman.

Wile, 29, has had two separate stints with the Falcons, punting in one game in 2016 and two more in 2019. In between, he appeared in three contests for the Arizona Cardinals and served as the punter for the Vikings for the entire 2018 campaign. All told, he has 90 career punts and a 45.5 yards per punt average. He has also had two of his punts blocked.

As for Colby Wadman, 26, he’s a former undrafted free agent out of California-Davis who has 28 games of experience with the Denver Broncos (2018-19). Thus far, he has 143 NFL punts to his credit and a 44.5-yard career average with no blocked kicks.

Meanwhile, Nizialek has not yet kicked in an NFL game. He did, however, average 45.0 yards per punt as a graduate transfer for the Georgia Bulldogs in 2017, having transferred from Columbia University, where he served as punter and kicker from 2014-16.

Nizialek—who is 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds—will be competing for a job with Dom Maggio, who had a record-setting career at Wake Forest and was signed by the Falcons in March. Maggio got his first opportunity in the NFL with the Baltimore Ravens last summer, but he was unable to unseat longtime veteran Sam Koch and was released in August 2020.

Hofrichter will be added to Atlanta’s injured reserve list on Wednesday, assuming he is not claimed by another team.

The Falcons Also Worked Out a Wide Receiver

As for the fourth player worked out by the Falcons on Monday, that would be Jonathan Adams Jr.—6-foot-3 and 220 pounds—who played collegiately at Arkansas State, where he had 166 career catches for 2,306 yards and 21 touchdown receptions. Adams was named Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year for 2020, and also earned first-team All-SBC honors.

He was signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Detroit Lions in early May but was waived on June 18th.

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