Falcons Sign Kicker as ‘Contingency Plan’

Elliott Fry

Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images Eddy Pineiro and Elliott Fry (R) sitting on the bench during a preseason game against the Carolina Panthers on August 08, 2019.

On Friday afternoon the Atlanta Falcons announced that they have signed kicker Elliott Fry to the team’s practice squad. Fry figures to serve as an insurance policy at two positions (placekicker and punter), in case Pro Bowl kicker Younghoe Koo or first-year punter Cameron Nizialek are sidelined by COVID-19 or any other eventuality.

Fry, 26, served in a similar capacity for most of last year, spending the final 12 weeks of the season on the Falcons practice squad. He was elevated to the active roster for one game, converting 1-of-1 field goals and 1-of-2 extra points against the Green Bay Packers in Week 4.

Fry—who kicked collegiately for South Carolina (2013-16) and remains the leading scorer in Gamecocks history (359 points)—has also spent time with the Chicago Bears, Baltimore Ravens and Carolina Panthers, not to mention the Orlando Apollo of the Alliance of American Football (AAF).

Most recently he was with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but he was released in early September when the Bucs inked Ryan Succop, who went on to make a last-minute field goal to beat the Dallas Cowboys, 31-29, in Thursday night’s season-opener for both teams.

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Falcons Place George Obinna on Injured Reserve

To make room for Fry, the Falcons placed outside linebacker George Obinna on the practice squad Reserve/Injured List. Obinna–6-foot-3 and 240 pounds–is a former undrafted free agent out of Sacramento State who entered the NFL with the Cleveland Browns following the 2020 NFL Draft. He has yet to appear in a regular-season game.

Obinna played four seasons for the Hornets, recording 136 total tackles, 33.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries in 46 career games. He set the school’s single-season record for sacks (14) in his final collegiate season (2019).

The Falcons signed Obinna in mid-June, but released him in mid-August before bringing him back via the practice squad.

Falcons Looking to Add More Specialists to Practice Squad?

Before singing Fry, the Falcons also held tryouts with: long snapper Beau Brinkley (Missouri); long snapper Brian Khoury (Carnegie Mellon); and punters Simon Laryea (Abilene Christian), Colton Schmidt (California-Davis) and Brandon Wright, the latter of whom was a four-year starting punter at Georgia State and also handled kickoff and placekicking during his last two collegiate seasons.

Since the start of the pandemic, many teams have been carrying an extra kicker and/or punter and/or long snapper on their practice squad, minimizing the risk of having to go into a game without the services of one or more specialists.

Atlanta opens its regular-season schedule on Sunday at 1 p.m. against the Philadelphia Eagles at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. It will be the team’s only home game until Week 4, when the Falcons are scheduled to host Washington.

The Falcons come into the season-opener against the Eagles as a 3.5 point favorite. The over/under is currently at 49 points.

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