The Atlanta Falcons made some moves on Monday, Oct. 25 heading into Week 8 against the Carolina Panthers.
D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that they released cornerback T.J. Green and kicker Elliot Fry from the practice squad. The move made room for the Falcons to sign safety Luther Kirk and activate starting right tackle Kaleb McGary from the reserve/COVID-19 list.
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Kirk Went Undrafted in 2020
Kirk, 24, played both quarterback and defensive back in high school before committing to Illinois State where he specialized at safety.
The 6-foot-2 defensive back broke out his junior year where he tied the Missouri Valley Football Conference lead with five interceptions and 61 tackles. He climbed the ladder even higher during his senior year posting a career-high 89 tackles, three sacks, a forced fumble, along with six pass deflections. He topped his final season off earning All-American FCS honors.
In four seasons at Illinois State, Kirk recorded a total of 183 tackles, 3.0 sacks, 4.0 tackles for loss, 19 passes defended and five interceptions through 48 games (26 starts).
He was projected to be a fourth or fifth-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft but instead went undrafted and was signed to the Dallas Cowboys practice squad. He ended up leaving Dallas in Week 3 to be with the Minnesota Vikings all the way up until August of this offseason. He was elevated to the Vikings’ 53-man roster for just one game last season but spent the rest of the year on the practice squad.
Top cornerback A.J. Terrell was injured in the 30-28 win over Miami on Sunday and safety Erik Harris was also too banged up to play all four quarters, so adding Kirk will be a safety net in the secondary.
While Kirk hasn’t had much experience on the NFL gridiron, his versatility as a defender flashes potential that the Falcons could take advantage of.
“We’ve moved a lot of guys in and out and that’s helped us on the practice squad,” coach Arthur Smith said during Monday’s press conference. “We feel pretty good about the health and where we are going.”
Falcons Welcome Back McGary
The Falcons took (what we thought would be) a blow when McGary was added to the COVID-19/reserve list ahead of Sunday’s game.
Backup Jason Spriggs took over his role and earned himself a 66.2 by Pro Football Focus (PFF). The grade was higher than McGary’s 2021 season average so far of 54.4. However, he still holds a higher Week 2 performance grade of 69.9 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
We’ll see what Smith decides to do about putting McGary back in his starting spot.
As for Green, he got the start in the Falcons’ Week 3 win over the Giants but hasn’t seen much action since then. Through six games, Green has recorded 12 total tackles and one pass breakup.