For the first time this season, the Falcons could start a game with their four best corners on the field at the same time. Darqueze Dennard was activated off the injured reserve yesterday morning with a 21-day designation for return to the active roster. It is uncertain whether or not Dennard will be activated before the game against Denver this Sunday. The team could decide to hold him off the active roster until after their Week 10 bye week, but either way, it will be the first time the cornerback room is at full strength.
AJ Terrell missed Weeks 3 and 4 after being placed on the COVID-19 reserve. Kendall Sheffield missed the first three weeks of the season due to injury. Then Darqueze Dennard missed Weeks 4 through 8 after a hamstring injury late in the Week 3 loss to the Chicago Bears. Isaiah Oliver is the only corner to play in every game this season — ironic since he is the worst out of the bunch.
There is no guarantee that the Falcons defense will improve dramatically as the secondary gets healthier. Instead, it ensures the front office will have its first opportunity to assess the group as a whole. The Falcons run defense has been pleasantly surprising this year, but the same cannot be said about the pass defense. Atlanta is second-to-last in passing yards allowed per game. Given that, one has to think that anything is an improvement compared to the first half of the season. These players are officially trying out for next year’s job in the second half of the season.
The Falcons pass rush has not done the secondary any favors this year, but the poor performances against the pass are due to a collective lack of effort and preparation. There could be no change in outcome when these four corners take the field for the first time together, but we will see more precisely what the issue is on defense. Is it the pass rush, secondary, or scheme?