<
>

Special teams likely to decide receiver battle

8/29/2014

Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith made it clear how difficult some of the decisions will be as the team trims the 75-man roster down to 53.

"Our (player) personnel staff is going to have some sleepless nights over the next 72 hours,'' Smith said following Thursday night's preseason finale at Jacksonville. "There are going to be a lot of transactions over the next four or five days, really over the next 10 days basically into the first game of the season. In terms of the rosters, there is a cause and effect for every move that takes place. It’s a tough time as a coach and a co-team builder in making those decisions on which guys are going to be on your roster and which ones are not.''

The wide receiver position presents one of those interesting dilemmas. One of the feel-good stories of the preseason was the emergence of undrafted rookie receivers Bernard Reedy and Geraldo Boldewijn. In fact, it appeared as if the last preseason game would decide which one of the two would make the 53-man roster. But Boldewijn's quest was sidetracked by a hamstring injury, meaning the guy they call "Amsterdam'' is likely to end up on the practice squad.

So the opportunity is there for the taking for Reedy, right? Not exactly.

Although Reedy impressed with his blazing speed and ability to go get the deep ball, the Falcons are destined to address a more pressing need when it comes to filling out the receiver group. Veterans Eric Weems and Courtney Roby are likely to be guys behind Julio Jones, Roddy White, Harry Douglas, and Devin Hester. Both Weems and Roby can contribute in all phases of special teams in terms of blocking and tackling, while Weems also brings a return element to the equation.

The Falcons struggled on special teams this preseason, which is why Weems was signed before the third preseason game. Special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong needs a couple of tough guys like Weems and Roby to help stabilize his units.

Yes, Reedy can also contribute on special teams as a return man. But the Falcons already have arguably the best return man in NFL history in record-setter Devin Hester.

So what does this all mean for Reedy? He surely will have a spot on the practice squad -- if another team doesn't scoop him up.

Being on the practice squad wouldn't be such a bad thing. Last year, receiver Darius Johnson was on the practice squad but got promoted while White dealt with ankle and hamstring issues and after Jones suffered a season-ending foot fracture. Injuries could surface at any time. And the Falcons already are without one receiver with Drew Davis (foot) missing the first six weeks of the season while on the physically unable to perform list.