Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  By JOHN MANASSO  |  Last updated 8/28/13
The Atlanta Falcons have until 6 p.m. Saturday to cut down to 53 players on their active roster. Here is a projection of the final 53, along with predicting the last five to make the roster and last five to get cut. Last Five To Get Cut LB Stephen Nicholas In his six seasons with the Falcons, Nicholas has started 48 games. But as the defense continues to experiment with multiple fronts and sub packages, he could be the odd-man out. The team also could save 3 million in salary by cutting him. Kroy Biermann has made the shift to outside linebacker, providing a better pass rush, and rookie Joplo Bartu has provided what the coaching staff hopes is a better cover defender than Nicholas, who was exposed in the playoffs by opposing tight ends. LB Robert James A fifth-round pick in 2008, James excelled on special teams last season but has never really made the transition to defense. Rookie Paul Worrilow has proved to be a tackling monster, so he might be able to replace James on special teams, as the Falcons could get younger at that spot. DT Travian Robertson A seventh-round pick last season, Robertson played in seven games. During the preseason, undrafted rookie Adam Replogle (Indiana) might be beating him out. Replogle played 19 snaps in the third preseason game the one in which the coaching staff puts the most stock against Tennessee while Robertson played only eight snaps, among the eight fewest of defensive players. LB Brian Banks His story is inspiring, but he has a dramatic jump to make from not playing in college to winning a spot on the active roster. He could land on the teams eight-man practice squad. CG Joe Hawley Has played in 37 games over the last three seasons and started 12 but with minimal effectiveness. Harland Gunn brings greater size (he's about 15 pounds heavier) with similar versatility, in terms of being able to play both positions. Hawley probably did not endear himself to the organization by getting suspended for four games last season, violating the leagues policy on performance-enhancing drugs. Last Five To Make It S Charles Mitchell The Falcons took Mitchell in the sixth-round last season out of Mississippi State and he played in 10 games, almost all on special teams. The Falcons have put a greater emphasis on his position since Mike Nolan joined as defensive coordinator and took two more safeties in the late rounds this year, Zeke Motta and Kemal Ishmael. Since arriving in 2008, general manager Thomas Dimitroff has rarely cut a player he drafted in the same year. One of the few times he did cornerback William Middleton in 2009 the organization seemed to regret it, as the Jaguars quickly signed Middleton, and he played games at a time when the Falcons were hurting at that position. OT Terren Jones At 6-foot-7, 341 pounds, he is the largest player the Falcons have in camp and the team appears to be placing a greater priority on that on the offensive line lately. With the fluidity of the situation at right tackle, the Falcons need as many as they can right now. OG Jacques McClendon McClendon brings much larger size than what the Falcons normally have at guard at 6-3, 324 pounds (see above). Was on the practice squad last year. Will be his fourth season in the NFL. The Falcons generally prefer to bring offensive linemen along slowly and value years on practice squads. WR Darius Johnson An undrafted rookie out of SMU, Johnson could potentially force the Falcons to go with six receivers. His 41-yard touchdown reception in the third preseason game showed his big-play potential. Plus, Drew Davis has not had a great preseason, with a fumble lost and a bad procedural penalty. Could be insurance. DB Dominique Franks He was cut last season but quickly re-signed. He makes the roster mostly because of his versatility and experience with the system. Drafted as a cornerback, he was actually at his most effective since joining the team when the Falcons used him at times at safety last season. He can also return punts, if necessary. The Projected 53 Quarterbacks (3) Matt Ryan, Dominique Davis, Sean Renfree Running Backs (5) Steven Jackson, Jacquizz Rodgers, Jason Snelling, Antone Smith, Bradie Ewing Tight Ends (3) Tony Gonzalez, Levine Toiolo, Chase Coffman Wide Receivers (6) Julio Jones, Roddy White, Harry Douglas, Kevin Cone, Darius Jackson, Drew Davis Offensive Line (9) Lamar Holmes, Sam Baker, Justin Blalock, Garrett Reynolds, Peter Konz, Ryan Schraeder, Harland Gunn, Terren Jones, Jacques McClendon Specialists (3) Matt Bosher, Matt Bryant, Josh Harris Defensive Line (9) Osi Umenyiora, Malliciah Goodman, Stansly Maponga, Cliff Matthews, Jonathan Massaquoi, Jonathan Babineaux, Corey Peters, Peria Jerry, Adam Replogle Linebackers (5) Sean Weatherspoon, Akeem Dent, Kroy Biermann, Joplo Bartu, Paul Worrilow Safeties (5) Thomas DeCoud, William Moore, Kemal Ishmael, Zeke Motta, Charles Mitchell Cornerbacks (5) Desmond Truant, Robert Alford, Robert McClain, Asante Samuel, Dominique Franks
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