Bair Mail: On Deion Jones, Qadree Ollison cut, Damien Williams, Marcus Mariota and more

The Falcons made a lot of news this week, including cutting 53 players, adding two forwards and five players to injured reserve.

There is a lot of talent unavailable to start the season, including linebacker Deion Jones, cornerback Isaiah Oliver and defensive lineman Marlon Davidson. That led to questions about the defense, the Falcons running back situation and, as always, Marcus Mariota the hottest topic of conversation.

Let’s dive into those topics and more in this Friday post:

Ben McDermott from Oxford, England, UK.

If you were the GM, would you trade or keep Deion Jones? I’m not sure which one I’d prefer.

Bair: Well, Ben, they have Deion Jones out for the foreseeable future right now, moving him to injured reserve on Thursday. He was reportedly dealing with a shoulder issue that required surgery and forced him to miss the regular season and most of training camp.

He will miss at least four games before he returns, and he may start playing (and playing well) to create a trade. Cutting Jones doesn’t help the Falcons salary-cap as much as the trade should. And, to your degree, they can keep him and play if he wants to earn a starting job or a backup role after he’s healthy. Although 2022 was not one of his best, he is still a very talented player who could be a valuable asset to the Falcons or another team.

If I were the GM and he was healthy, I would try to work out a trade to help the team as a whole with its salary situation. Rashaan Evans and Mykal Walker are quality starters, and the Falcons have depth. Any draft capital is helpful as the Falcons try to strengthen their roster in the near and long term. I’d take that, even if I had to pay some of Jones’ salary.

Sorry about the Ollison cut. I feel like this could be a great year for him as a stock. I haven’t seen much of Damien Williams during camp, but he’s always been considered a lock for Ollison and Huntley. Did his experience give you the upper hand or did he get better?

Bair: Qadree Ollison has been in dire straits, the odd man out in the race room. Although he had his best season, showing improved burst and short-area rush, his running style was very similar to fifth-round NFL Draft pick Tyler Allgeier, which made him expendable.

As for Damien Williams, his experience and style make him a lock. You didn’t see much of him last season because the team wanted to make sure one of their base runners didn’t take a ton of hits this summer. He is versatile and can run between the tackles and be an asset in the backfield, giving him options and unpredictability when in play.

We are fortunate to have our two quarterbacks, and I also think Mariota is very motivated and very talented. Why are people so quick to say it’s a QB bridge?

Bair: I think Marcus Mariota is often labeled as the bridge quarterback because of his starting experience, near-reserve status and his contract. He’s here on a two-year deal that runs out in 2023, so the Falcons could move if Desmond Ridder takes command of the starting quarterback.

I would push back on that thought, however. He’s only 28. There’s a lot of NFL football left in him, especially at that position. He’s also a fantastic player, someone who could make an impact if he can stick it out and rebuild himself as an NFL starter.

The Falcons have good options in Mariota and Ridder, and Mariota has a real chance to take a firm hold of the starting gig in 2022 and beyond if he lives up to his potential.

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota #1 during the AT&T Atlanta Falcons Camp at the Falcons Training Center in Flower Branch, Georgia, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022. (Photo by Shanna Lockwood/Atlanta Falcons)

Shanna Lockwood/© 2022 Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta Falcons guard Justin Shaffer #75 during the AT&T Atlanta Falcons Camp at the Atlanta Falcons Training Center in Flower Branch, Georgia, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022. (Photo by Shanna Lockwood/Atlanta Falcons)

Shanna Lockwood/© 2022 Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta Falcons defensive end Matt Dickerson #92 during the AT&T Atlanta Falcons Camp at the Falcons Training Center in Flower Branch, Georgia, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022. (Photo by Shanna Lockwood/Atlanta Falcons)

Shanna Lockwood/© 2022 Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta Falcons inside linebacker Mykal Walker #3 during the AT&T Atlanta Falcons Camp at the Atlanta Falcons Training Center in Flower Branch, Georgia, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022. (Photo by Shanna Lockwood/Atlanta Falcons)

Shanna Lockwood/© 2022 Atlanta Falcons

Frank Bush breaks down with his team during the AT&T Atlanta Falcons Camp at the Atlanta Falcons practice facility in Flower Branch, Georgia, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022. (Photo by Shanna Lockwood/Atlanta Falcons)

Shanna Lockwood/© 2022 Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta Falcons linebacker Grady Jarrett #97 during the AT&T Atlanta Falcons Camp at the Falcons Training Center in Rose Branch, Georgia, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022. (Photo by Shanna Lockwood/Atlanta Falcons)

Shanna Lockwood/© 2022 Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta Falcons linebacker Troy Andersen #44 and inside linebacker Mykal Walker #3 during AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp at the Atlanta Falcons Training Center in Flower Branch, Georgia, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022. (Photo by Shanna Lockwood/Atlanta Falcons)

Shanna Lockwood/© 2022 Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Jared Bernhardt #83 during AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp at the Atlanta Falcons Training Center in Rose Branch, Georgia, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022. (Photo by Shanna Lockwood/Atlanta Falcons)

Shanna Lockwood/© 2022 Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Josh Ali #80 during the AT&T Atlanta Falcons Camp at the Atlanta Falcons Training Center in Rose Branch, Georgia, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022. (Photo by Shanna Lockwood/Atlanta Falcons)

Shanna Lockwood/© 2022 Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta Falcons inside linebacker Mykal Walker #3 during the AT&T Atlanta Falcons Camp at the Atlanta Falcons Training Center in Flower Branch, Georgia, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022. (Photo by Shanna Lockwood/Atlanta Falcons)

Shanna Lockwood/© 2022 Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta Falcons inside linebacker Mykal Walker #3 during the AT&T Atlanta Falcons Camp at the Atlanta Falcons Training Center in Flower Branch, Georgia, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022. (Photo by Shanna Lockwood/Atlanta Falcons)

Shanna Lockwood/© 2022 Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta Falcons defensive end Mike Ford #28 during the AT&T Atlanta Falcons Camp at the Falcons Training Center in Flower Branch, Georgia, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022. (Photo by Shanna Lockwood/Atlanta Falcons)

Shanna Lockwood/© 2022 Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta Falcons outside linebacker Quinton Bell #56 during the AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp at the Atlanta Falcons Training Center in Rose Branch, Georgia, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022. (Photo by Shanna Lockwood/Atlanta Falcons)

Shanna Lockwood/© 2022 Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta Falcons linebacker Derrick Tangelo #99 during AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp at the Falcons Training Center in Atlanta Falcons Branch, Georgia, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022. (Photo by Shanna Lockwood/Atlanta Falcons)

Shanna Lockwood/© 2022 Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver KhaDarel Hodge #12 and cornerback A.J. Terrell #24 during the AT&T Atlanta Falcons Camp at the Falcons Training Center in Flower Branch, Georgia, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022. (Photo by Shanna Lockwood/Atlanta Falcons)

Shanna Lockwood/© 2022 Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Abdullah Anderson #65 during the AT&T Atlanta Falcons Camp at the Falcons Training Center in Rose Branch, Georgia, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022. (Photo by Shanna Lockwood/Atlanta Falcons)

Shanna Lockwood/© 2022 Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith during the AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp at the Atlanta Falcons Training Center in Flower Branch, Georgia, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022. (Photo by Shanna Lockwood/Atlanta Falcons)

Shanna Lockwood/© 2022 Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta Falcons linebacker Derrick Tangelo #99 during AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp at the Falcons Training Center in Atlanta Falcons Branch, Georgia, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022. (Photo by Shanna Lockwood/Atlanta Falcons)

Shanna Lockwood/© 2022 Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta Falcons offensive tackle Elijah Wilkinson #68 during the AT&T Atlanta Falcons Camp at the Falcons Training Center in Flower Branch, Georgia, Thursday, September 1, 2022. (Photo by Shanna Lockwood/Atlanta Falcons)

Shanna Lockwood/© 2022 Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta Falcons defensive end Mike Ford #28 during the AT&T Atlanta Falcons Camp at the Falcons Training Center in Flower Branch, Georgia, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022. (Photo by Shanna Lockwood/Atlanta Falcons)

Shanna Lockwood/© 2022 Atlanta Falcons

David Hicks from Marshalltown, Iowa

By doing the work of the training team, can you tell us what the role of the training team is for the team? I assume players are “called up” to the starting lineup if needed, just like in minor league baseball? How many times can they be “called” during the year? Are they part of regular group activities?

Bair: This is a good question, David, that I’m sure a lot of people have. Let’s go over a little practice 101. Those signed to the 16-player practice squad generally run the scouting team, offense and defense run the opponent’s system next week, the efforts made by the practice squad and some one of the members of the reserve unit. Some players are even imitating other team’s professional players.

A practice squad player can be added to the 53-man roster three times and returned to the practice squad after the game. If a team wants to get promoted again, they have to sign them to the active roster.

All team players go to home games, but only some go on the road. Up to six players can be veterans, adding more flexibility to those positions. Most of the positions, however, are used by young, developing players who are developing outside of the spotlight. That takes some of the pressure off, if they’re not quite ready for game action.

Scott Mossbrooks from Flower Branch, Ga.

Love your wallet and first time writer. My question is why are the Falcons running a FB and not using a TE as a FB? As much as coach Smith loves TEs, you’d think he could create a variety of looks that do just that.

Bair: I think it’s more of a Keith Smith thing. He is a core special teams player and excels as a leader and pass defender. I’m sure Smith can be used as a tight end as an H-back and has certainly done so before, but Smith gives the Falcons valuable experience there and on special teams.

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