Falcons 4th round pick to assume starting duties, possibly for rest of season

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Injuries are piling up for the Falcons. Over the last couple of weeks, the team’s secondary, in particular, has been decimated. A.J. Terrell injured his hamstring against the 49ers and tweaked it again last week. He’s considered week-to-week but will likely miss Sunday’s contest. Jaylinn Hawkins went down with a head injury and has already been ruled out for Week 8. Dee Alford and Mike Ford are both dealing with lower body injuries, too. However, the biggest loss is Casey Hayward.

Hayward has been the team’s starting boundary corner for the entire season but injured his shoulder against the Niners and was quickly placed on the injured reserve. ESPN reports the injury likely requires surgery and could cost him the entire year.

Last week against the Bengals, Darren Hall started in place of Hayward on the boundary, where he experienced some success earlier in the season when Hayward and Terrell were down with injuries. Hall had an incredible pass breakup against the 49ers and a forced fumble and recovery against the Rams.

The Bengals game was different, though. The entire secondary was torched, but it wasn’t because of Hall. The 4th round pick held up admirably, considering the circumstances. With Hayward on the sidelines, it’s his job to lose.

In the coming weeks, the second-year pro will face off against D.J. Moore, Terry McLaurin, and Mike Williams. Coming out of San Diego State, Hall was a boundary corner through and through. But during his rookie season, he took a majority of his defensive snaps at nickel, splitting reps with Richie Grant and filling in for Isaiah Oliver.

This is Hall’s chance to prove he’s capable of being a starter in this league. Injuries have decimated Atlanta’s secondary, but depending on your perspective, it could be seen as an opportunity. If Hall can continue to show he can hang around with some of the best receivers in the game, it’ll allow the Falcons to use their premium draft picks on other positions. A 4th round starting boundary corner is an incredible find if this all works out.

Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire
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