Falcons Signing Former Steelers Safety: Report


Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images Tarik Cohen of the Chicago Bears breaks a long run in overtime against J.J. Wilcox of the Pittsburgh Steelers on September 24, 2017.

On Tuesday the Atlanta Falcons had former Pittsburgh Steelers safety J.J. Wilcox in for a visit.

On Wednesday a report from D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution indicated that the Falcons are “set” to sign Wilcox. According Jason Butt, also of AJC Sports, Wilcox is currently in the process of going through the COVID-19 testing protocol, and it’s not yet clear whether he’ll be finished in time to be available on Sunday against the Carolina Panthers.

The Falcons are not entirely unfamiliar with Wilcox, even though he has never appeared in a game with Atlanta. He signed with the Falcons in April 2019 but suffered a torn ACL in training camp and missed the entire 2019 season. In August of this year he re-signed with Atlanta, only to be released in early September.

The Falcons are desperate for reinforcements at safety. Damontae Kazee is out for the season with an Achilles injury, and Atlanta has three safeties on its injury report—Keanu Neal (hamstring), Ricardo Allen (elbow) and Jaylinn Hawkins (concussion)—all of whom either missed practice or were limited participants on Wednesday.

Jets Designate Le’Veon Bell to Return from Injured Reserve

In other news, on Wednesday the New York Jets designated former Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell to return to practice. That means he could return to play as soon as this coming Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals at MetLife Stadium.

Bell rushed for six times for 14 yards in Week 1 against the Buffalo Bills and also had two receptions for 32 yards before being pulled from that game with a hamstring injury. He was placed on injured reserve on September 15, where he remained until being designated to return on Wednesday.

If Bell returns to action on Sunday, he’ll get a chance to play with former Baltimore Ravens starter Joe Flacco, who is set to start at quarterback for the Jets, according to ESPN Senior NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

The news prompted one fantasy football-focused Twitter user to quip:

If Flacco goes on to the start the game against the Cardinals, it will be his first NFL start in nearly a year. His last start came as a member of the Denver Broncos on October 27, 2019 against the Indianapolis Colts.

New York Jets starting QB Sam Darnold is out with a sprained right throwing shoulder.

Johnny Holton Released by the New York Giants

Meanwhile, former Steelers receiver Johnny Holton has been released from the New York Giants practice squad. He was placed on New York’s active roster ahead of the team’s Week 3 game against the San Francisco 49ers, during which he played 13 snaps on special teams. Then he reverted to the club’s practice squad.

Holton signed with the Giants after a tryout in early September. He came into the NFL in 2016 as an undrafted free agent with the Raiders and spent three seasons in Oakland, catching 11 passes for 252 yards in 32 games.

After leaving Oakland he spent the first half of calendar 2019 with the Philadelphia Eagles before coming to the Steelers. He played in all 16 games for Pittsburgh in 2019, but had just three catches for 21 yards despite being targeted 15 times.

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