Last year, the Atlanta Falcons struggled to find enough able bodies at the cornerback position. This year, in somewhat of a surprise move, the team released a seasoned veteran.
Dominique Franks, last year’s nickelback and one of the front-runners for the punt return job this year, was released Friday, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Franks played in 14 games last year, recording 15 tackles and picking off two passes. When the Falcons added cornerback Asante Samuel prior to the 2012 NFL draft, he was pushed further down the depth chart.
In four preseason games, Franks made five tackles, picked off a pass and returned six punts for an average of 11.6 yards per return. That average was skewed, however, by a 45-yard return against the Baltimore Ravens. Franks averaged five yards per return over his other five attempts.
When on defense, Franks, struggled in coverage during the preseason.
At this point, Franks is the only defensive back to have been released by the Falcons. The team still has until 9 p.m. ET to trim its roster to 53 players. Franks was not the only cut though.
Atlanta also released linebacker Spencer Adkins in a surprise move. With Curtis Lofton in New Orleans and Lofa Tatupu gone after sustaining a season-ending pectoral injury, Akeem Dent is slated as the team's starting middle linebacker, and the depth behind Dent is thin.
Adkins made six tackles last year in 10 games and was even forced to start once when injuries took their toll on the Falcons linebacker corps.
Atlanta might only keep five linebackers on the 53-man roster, with Dent, Sean Weatherspoon, Stephen Nicholas and Mike Peterson almost certainties.
In other Falcons’ news regarding the cut from 75 to 53:
Linebackers Rico Council, Jerrell Harris and Pat Schiller have been waived. As has offensive tackle Bryce Harris, safety Suaesi Tuimaunei, cornerbacks Peyton Thompson and Marty Markett, running back Dimitri Nance, center Tyler Horn, defensive linemen Micanor Regis and Conrad Obi and wide receivers Drew Davis, James Rodgers and Marcus Jackson.
Davis was locked in a battle with Kevin Cone for what was thought to be the fifth and final receiver spot on the depth chart. With the team confirming all 22 transactions, Cone has officially won the battle.
Tight end LaMark Brown and guard Andrew Jackson were released under injury settlements. Wide receiver Kerry Meier and safety Shann Schillinger were placed on injured reserve.
Fullback Mike Cox and long snapper Joe Zalenka were released.