The Atlanta Falcons brought two players from their practice team – wide receiver Frank Darby and offense lineman Ryan Neuzil – ahead of their Week 11 game against the Chicago Bears. ESPN’s Michael Rothstein reported on Saturday, November 19th.
Darby, a 2021 Atlanta sixth-round pick, appeared in just one other game this season in Week 3 against the Seattle Seahawks.
As for Neuzil, this will be his third time joining the active roster and we could see him getting some reps in left guard whenever Colby Gossett struggles.
Under league rules, a practice squad player may only be promoted for a maximum of three regular-season games. After that, the team will have to add him to the 53-man roster.
The wide receiver position was easily the toughest fight in training camp this offseason, and the Falcons’ 2021 sixth-round pick was overshadowed by the older boys.
While he might have been overlooked alongside the vets, Darby felt his overall performance at camp was much better than his rookie year.
“I felt like this camp was one of my best camps, way better than last year,” Darby said on Aug. 29. “I felt like this camp made me push myself, especially the space that has been created since me and Oz [Olamide Zacchaeus] were the only ones who came back from last year.”
The Falcons brought a handful of veterans with them this summer, including KhaDarel Hodge, Geronimo Allison, Damiere Byrd, Auden Tate and Bryan Edwards. And these guys came to town with a lot more experience, which ultimately helped Darby.
“Bringing people like Hodge, Edwards, Tate, Geronimo, Byrd … that pushed me to another frontier because a lot of them guys, vets, and they knew a lot,” Darby said. “So I had to force myself to learn the playbook, to learn my assignment better, to learn my details and wherever they took me, I had to do it at a high level. And I feel like I did that really well.”
As a freshman, Darby didn’t see much action, playing in just three games and recording a catch for 14 yards.
In the end, he didn’t make it past Atlanta’s final roster cuts prior to Week 1, but was immediately signed to the team’s practice squad the following day.
After not being selected from Appalachian State in the 2021 NFL Draft, Neuzil was signed by the Falcons as an undrafted free agent.
He didn’t make it through roster cuts, but was re-enlisted in the drill squad the next day. Neuzil spent the entire 2021 season on the practice team and signed a future contract with Atlanta in January.
After spending a year in the ‘P squad’, Neuzil came into this past off-season to make a difference. He put in a pretty decent performance, even taking snaps down the middle unlike the guard, but his versatility wasn’t enough to make it through the final squad cuts.
Neuzil was reinstated in the training squad. With the Falcons struggling with center and guard injuries, we could see Neuzil rotating through both positions when needed on Sunday.