Friday, September 22

Falcons injury update: Isaiah Oliver working his way back for Week 1

There are a fair number of injuries on the Falcons roster right now, though Arthur Smith has made it clear to reporters that none of them are imperiling their availability for Week 1. Beyond that, we don’t have all that many updates from the team about the statuses of Drake London, Marlon Davidson, and others. The hope is that the Falcons will have some news to offer us ahead of Monday night’s preseason game against the Jets, because it would be particularly nice to see players who didn’t get any run in Week 1 out there in New Jersey.

We do have a bit more of an update on Isaiah Oliver’s status, thanks to ESPN’s Mike Rothstein, as well as positive news for safety Jaylinn Hawkins and wide receiver Bryan Edwards. Let’s tuck into those updates right now.

Oliver still progressing, getting time at safety

First, the concrete good news: Oliver appears to be on track for Week 1. Per Mike Rothstein at ESPN, the veteran defensive back will be able to play without a brace within about a week-and-a-half, or just about 10 days from tomorrow. We know this because Rothstein reports that Oliver has every milestone circled on his calendar, as you’d expect for a player eager to get back on the field.

Mike Ford has been working at the nickel quite a bit with Oliver on the shelf. While he has scuffled in coverage against the Lions, Ford is an experienced special teamer and has likely done enough to make a strong push for a roster spot. Oliver should be expected to take his job back without much resistance once he’s ready to go, though, and it sounds like the Falcons will have him on the field against the Saints.

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Also per Rothstein, Oliver has been working at safety at times in practice.

This is not the first time the Falcons have flirted with having Oliver play some safety. In 2020 under Raheem Morris and Jeff Ulbrich post-Dan Quinn’s firing, the team had Oliver work primarily at nickel but teased that he could get significant time at safety. Last year, Rothstein notes that Oliver was practicing at safety at times before his injury ended both his season and that experiment. The reality is that Oliver’s physicality has always invited fans and coaches alike to toy with the idea, and the team’s current defensive coordinator loves versatility in his defensive backs.

This is a long-winded way of saying this is not a novel notion for this team, and you shouldn’t be surprised to see Oliver get a little work at safety at times this season if Dean Pees feels like making it happen. Pees would like to play chess instead of checkers, and the more chess pieces the better in light of that. It’s hard not to be excited about what kind of season Oliver might have when he’s healthy again.

Jaylinn Hawkins back on limited basis, Darren Hall returns

I’m cautiously optimistic that Hawkins will be good to go on Monday. Per Scott Bair with the Falcons, Hawkins was back to practicing on a limited basis Monday night, which gives him about a week to recover and get ready. If he is out there, we’ll get our first 2022 look at Richie Grant and Hawkins together, and that’s a plus given that we all expect that duo to start.

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In addition, Hall returned to practice. He had an uneven game against the Lions, but there was more good than bad in that effort, and Hall is expected to be a key reserve for the team in 2022. It’s good that he’s healthy.

We hadn’t written about it separately to this point, so it’s worth noting that rookie linebacker Troy Andersen is also back practicing. He may get his first game action on Monday.

Marlon Davidson, two others miss practice

Davidson has been snakebitten since he arrived in the league. The former second round pick has loads of promise and remains a player I’m deeply intrigued by, but injury has been a factor in each of his three seasons thus far. He was reportedly fully healthy for the first time in his short career heading into the summer, so I’m frustrated for him that he’s missing practice. We’ll hope he’s well and that we’ll see Davidson soon, given that he should be a key piece of the defensive line rotation when healthy.

In addition to Davidson, cornerback Cornell Armstrong and linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski missed time Monday. Armstrong played against the Lions and is hopefully dealing with something short-term, as he’s competing for one of the final defensive back spots on the roster. Kwiatkoski was inactive against the Lions but will hope to get back out there against New York, as well, as he vies for a reserve linebacker role in Atlanta this season.

Bryan Edwards out for birth of son

Finally, some news that has nothing to do with the injury report. Edwards missed practice because he welcomed a son Monday. It’s a week of good news for Edwards, who we learned won’t be impacted long-term by the injury that kept him out of the first preseason game. We’d like to congratulate him, and we’ll hope to see him get what’s likely to be very brief work against the Jets Monday.

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