Tonight’s final preseason contest between the Atlanta Falcons and Jacksonville Jaguars is not just about guys trying to make the roster. There are also battles for roster positioning, and the one I’m watching is at backup inside linebacker.
7th round picks Yawin Smallwood and Tyler Starr seem to be destined for the practice squad or cut outright. Undrafted free agent rookie Jacques Smith may have cost himself a roster spot with his ejection last week, and this estimation comes straight from Special Teams Coach Keith Armstrong.
Tim Dobbins and Paul Angerer are the only 2 active LBs on the roster with more than a single season of experience, and the coaching staff has to consider who wears the “green dot” as the on-field signal caller in a Plan C scenario in which ILB Paul Worrilow is injured. Worrilow is already Plan B after losing All-Pro Sean Weatherspoon to an Achilles injury in June. One of these two veterans seems to be the logical choice.
One reason Dobbins, currently ahead of Angerer on the official depth chart, was brought on after ‘Spoon went on injured reserve is because of his familiarity with defensive coordinator Mike Nolan’s defense given their time together in Miami. One has to wonder, though, how much of an advantage that is considering four years have passed since their days with the Dolphins.
Angerer has clearly outplayed Dobbins throughout the preseason in my opinion. The caveat here is that he has committed far too many penalties this preseason, which is major sticking point with head coach Mike Smith. It won’t be easy to take the reins as the on-field organizer of the defense if he’s being penalized with regularity.
Their performances tonight against the Jags could go a long way towards determining which becomes the primary backup and may even possibly save their roster spot in the event the coaching staff sees things differently than I do.