FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — The Atlanta Falcons waived 2022 starting linebacker Mykal Walker in a surprise move Sunday.
Walker started and had four tackles in the Falcons’ 19-3 preseason win at Miami on Friday night. Falcons coach Arthur Smith did not play most of his projected starters against the Dolphins.
On Sunday, the Falcons signed linebacker Frank Ginda, the 2023 USFL defensive player of the year.
The Falcons did not announce an injury to Walker in Friday night’s game, but the 2020 fourth-round draft pick apparently was unavailable for the remainder of training camp. Smith said several players were held out Sunday with soft-tissue injuries.
Smith indicated Walker may have been unavailable the remainder of training camp.
“The thing you have to do in training camp, going through 90 guys, when we’re working guys out, if a guy is going to be out the rest of camp you’ve got to make decisions on him, so there’s a lot of things going on,” Smith said when asked about Walker.
Later Sunday, the Falcons announced Walker’s release in a one-sentence statement. No mention was made of an injury or other reason for the move.
Walker had a career-high 107 tackles with two interceptions and one sack in 16 games, including 12 starts, in 2022. He was fighting for his starting spot on the revamped Atlanta defense in training camp.
Walker posted a thank you to the Falcons on social media for his three years with the team.
“Allowed me to achieve my dreams, I’ve meet brothers for life, and brought my son into this world. My journey is far from over excited for what comes next!” Walker wrote.
The Falcons could have as many as six new starters on defense. Linebacker Kaden Elliss, a free-agent addition, has been working with Troy Andersen in the middle of the defense, ahead of Walker. Lorenzo Carter and Bud Dupree may have the lead in the competition at the outside linebacker spots.
Falcons rookie cornerback Clark Phillips III returned to practice on Sunday. Phillips was carted off the practice field with a leg injury during Tuesday’s joint practice with the Dolphins.
Smith plans to play his starters, including quarterback Desmond Ridder, in Friday night’s home preseason game against Cincinnati.
Smith said cornerbacks Mike Hughes and Cornell Armstrong, wide receiver Frank Darby and running back Cordarrelle Patterson could miss “maybe a week or so” with what the coach described as “soft-tissue” injuries.
“We’ll just take it and be smart with it,” said Smith when asked about Patterson. “Nothing we’re concerned about long term.”
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