The Atlanta Falcons filled out their practice squad on Monday, September 5 by signing former Chicago Bears defender, Khyiris Tonga.
Tonga was originally a seventh-round (250th overall) pick by the Bears in the 2021 NFL draft and was released by the team last week.
Atlanta has several connections with the Bears organization as they have many former Chicago executives currently working in their own front office, so it’s no surprise that the Falcons picked up another Bear.
ALL the latest Falcons news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Falcons newsletter here!
Tonga Was a BYU Standout Prior to Entering the League
Prior to entering the 2021 NFL Draft, Tonga was a BYU standout.
During his four-year college career with the Cougars, Tonga recorded 130 total tackles, 16 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, and 12 pass defenses in 47 career games.
During his rookie year with Chicago, Tonga posted 24 total tackles, 10 solo tackles, and one fumble recovery in 15 games.
He joins fellow BYU product and rookie running back, Tyler Allgeier, on the Falcons’ roster.
The 26-year-old 6-4, 322-pound defender matches up well alongside 360-pound Anthony Rush and 323-pound and Timmy Horne.
Falcons 16-Man Practice Squad
Per the official league rules, NFL organizations may establish a practice squad of 16 players. All players with zero accrued seasons or fewer than nine regular-season games in a single season are eligible for the practice squad. Additionally, teams can have up to 10 players with two or fewer accrued seasons and a max of six established veterans with unlimited accrued seasons on their practice squad.
A practice squad player is only able to be elevated three times per season and any more than that would mean the team would have to sign them to the 53-man roster.
Below is the Falcons’ 53-man roster ahead of Week 1 vs. the New Orleans Saints:
- OL Justin Shaffer
- DL Derrick Tangelo
- OLB Jordan Brailford
- CB Matt Hankins
- OL Tyler Vrabel
- WR Frank Darby
- RB Caleb Huntley
- OL Ryan Neuzil
- TE MyCole Pruitt
- WR Cam Batson
- S Teez Tabor
- WR Josh Ali
- TE Anthony Firkser
- TE Tucker Fisk
- CB Ka’Dar Hollman
- DL Khyiris Tonga
From the looks of it, the Falcons are playing it safe at wide receiver by keeping Darby, Ali and Batson on deck.
Atlanta’s 2022 first-round pick Drake London has been dealing with a minor injury since the first preseason game and it’s unclear if he’ll be available on Sunday, September 11. However, he did return to practice on Monday which is a good indication that he’ll be ready to roll.
If not, one of the three receivers from the practice squad will be elevated.
Another position the Falcons stacked for extra depth is at tight end with Pruitt, Fisk and Firsker. With Kyle Pitts and Parker Hesse as the only established tight ends on the roster, the Falcons have a few to choose from for emergency backups.
The Falcons did not add a quarterback to their practice squad which means they are comfortable with Marcus Mariota and Desmond Ridder. They also have Feleipe Franks as their third-string backup but he will be seeing more time at tight end than QB.