This might not be the most exciting roster battle for fans, but special teams matter! Furthermore, this competition should go down to the wire, especially since there will only be two preseason games this season.
Because of an injury to Matt Bosher, the Falcons called on the long-time punter for the New England Patriots to fill in. Ryan Allen spent 2013-2018 under Bill Belichick, averaging a respectable 45.3 yards per punt and winning three Super Bowls. That’s not too shabby, but the Patriots ended up drafting a punter in the fifth round of the 2019 draft, Jake Bailey, who took Allen’s job in the preseason. Allen appeared in eight games last season for the Falcons but averaged a career-low 41.9 yards per punt, opening the door for Atlanta’s newest special teams addition.
For the first time since the Falcons took Matt Bosher out of Miami in the sixth round of the 2011 draft, Atlanta spent a selection on a punter. Sterling Hofrichter was the starting punter for four seasons at Syracuse and handled kickoffs as well for two years. He never averaged less than 42.7 yards per punt over a single season and finished his senior year as a top-three finalist for the Ray Guy Award, given to the best punter each season. Hofrichter was also Pro Football Focus’s highest-graded punter in the nation and made their All-ACC team.
Allen will stick around as a veteran to push Hofrichter, but given the Falcons spent a draft pick on the Syracuse product, his age, and track record in college, Hofrichter undoubtedly has the inside track to win the job. As long as he puts together a decent offseason and doesn’t have any missteps in the two preseason games, he should be the punter for the foreseeable future in Atlanta.