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getty Falcons elevate rookie defender ahead of Week 12's matchup vs. Jacksonville.

On Saturday, November 27, the Atlanta Falcons announced they had elevated linebacker Dorian Etheridge from the practice squad to the active roster as a COVID-19 flex.

Dorian Etheridge has been elevated from the practice squad as a COVID-19 flex.

— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) November 27, 2021

Earlier this week, punter Dustin Colquitt was added to the reserve/COVID-19 list, leaving an open spot for Etheridge to pump up.

Taking Colquitt’s spot is veteran punter and former Saints Super Bowl champ, Thomas Morstead.

As far as Etheridge goes, his help could signal that the Falcons could be without linebacker Deion Jones who is questionable for Sunday.

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 Etheridge Went Undrafted in 2021

Etheridge, 23, initially went undrafted out of Louisville this past April and signed with the Falcons as a UDFA in May.

He’s appeared in five games so far this season, logging just one tackle against the New York Giants.

Before entering the league, Etheridge played four seasons (2017-20) at the University of Louisville. Through 47 games with the Cardinals, he racked up 258 total tackles (148 solo), 24 tackles for loss, 14 passes defended, 4.0 sacks, four fumble recoveries and one forced fumble.

Etheridge’s football intelligence stood out through several scouting reports, including this one from Sports Illustrated:

A four-year starter and team captain, Etheridge was a staple of excellence for the Cardinals. Praised for his smarts and intelligence by the coaching staff, Etheridge possesses the raw traits and consistency that could make him an appealing developmental prospect at the next level. His high football IQ puts him in position to make plays and his reliable tackling gets the job done for him. He is a solid box defender who fills lanes and forces offenses to account for him in the run game.

Well see if Etheridge gets some action against the Jaguars this Sunday.

Jones’ Absence Could Be a Huge Loss

Jones, with 92 tackles, currently trails behind lead tackler Foye Oluokun’s 110 tackles. After that, safety Erik Harris sits at third with just 55 tackles and A.J. Terrell is not too far behind that with 45.

As you can see, missing Jones would be a huge loss for this must-win matchup. If Jones is unable to play by Sunday at 1 p.m., then you can expected second-year linebacker Mykal Walker to step up. The 6-3 and 240-pound linebacker was initially a fourth-round selection out of Fresno State in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Unlike last season, he hasn’t been used much under Dean Pees and only has 11 tackles so far on the season. But he played a handful of snaps in 2020 and finished the year with 45 total tackles, starting in all 16 games and was named to Pro Football Focus’s All-Rookie Team.

Walker spent the offseason training harder and went from 220 pounds to 240 in order to become a better blocker. While he hasn’t been able to find his footing under the new defense, he has a chance to prove himself on Sunday if Jones is unavailable.

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    • Falcons Looking at Longtime Saints Punter: Report 
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Cowboys Could Make Run at Long Shot Ex-Rival Star Coach, Says Analyst

Getty Jim Harbaugh is an intriguing option for the Cowboys.

The Sean Payton rumors are not going anywhere, but the Dallas Cowboys could have other options with the legendary coach likely turning to the broadcast booth for the time being. While head coach Mike McCarthy indicated it is business as usual in Big D, owner Jerry Jones admitted he has “a lot to think about” when it comes to the future of the current coaching staff.

This means plenty of rumors for potential replacement options for the Cowboys. Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox made a list of the top-three candidates to replace McCarthy with a surprising addition: Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh.

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The former 49ers coach has a great knowledge of the NFL and appears to be at least flirting with coming back to the NFL with the Raiders as one potential suitor. Could Jones try to intercept Harbaugh’s potential move to Las Vegas?

“Jim Harbaugh is another long shot because he’s under contract with the Michigan Wolverines,” Knox detailed on January 24. “…The Cowboys have the offensive and defensive talent to give Harbaugh that opportunity.

“What makes Harbaugh an attractive option is the quick success he found in his last NFL sting. When he joined the San Francisco 49ers in 2011, he immediately turned San Francisco into a contender. The 49ers went 6-10 the year before hiring Harbaugh. They went 13-3 and reached the NFC title game in his first season. In Harbaugh’s second season, he took the 49ers to the Super Bowl.

“Harbaugh coached San Francisco to three NFC title games in his four years with the team before returning to college. The Cowboys haven’t reached the NFC Championship Game since the 1995 season.”

Harbaugh Would Accept the Raiders Head Coaching Job: Report

The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman reported Harbaugh’s Michigan colleagues believe the longtime coach would accept the Raiders job, if offered. If Jones wants to make a run at Harbaugh, the Cowboys owner may be too late.

“Harbaugh, who has a long friendship with owner Mark Davis, started his coaching career with the team in 2003,” Feldman explained on January 20. “He also has family ties to Las Vegas, which is where he met his wife.

“Multiple sources inside Michigan football told The Athletic this week that they think if Harbaugh is offered the Raiders head coaching job, he’d take it.

“They also know that Harbaugh can be hard to read. Their hunches could be wrong — but they also know he’s never coached anywhere longer than four years prior to his seven years and running in Ann Arbor. They’ve each believed that he, at some point, would want to coach in the NFL again.”

The Case for Harbaugh as the Next Cowboys Head Coach

Harbaugh may be a bit prickly to work with, but it is hard to argue with the coach’s resume. Aside from recently leading Michigan to the College Football Playoff, the 49ers went 44-19 during Harbaugh’s four seasons in the Bay Area. This included three straight double-digit win seasons.

Harbaugh went 8-5 in the postseason with the Niners, including a run to the Super Bowl during the 2012 season. As an added bonus, Harbaugh is a former NFL quarterback who could help with Dak Prescott’s development. All of this should indeed give Jones “a lot to think about.”

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