Ray Edwards has become part-time player

The Atlanta Falcons still list Ray Edwards as their starting left defensive end, but that’s up for debate.

Signed to help cure the pass rush in 2011, Edwards has become something of a part-time player this season. He officially has started three games and Kroy Biermann has started two, but a closer look at playing-time numbers tells the real story.

The Falcons have had 311 defensive plays in their first five games. Biermann has been on the field for 215 of them, while Edwards has participated in 122 plays.

The disparity in playing time has been even more pronounced in the last two games. In Sunday’s victory at Washington, the Falcons had 49 defensive plays. Biermann was on the field for 36 of them, while Edwards participated in 13.

In a Week 4 victory against Carolina, the Falcons had 64 defensive plays. Biermann was in for 40 of those, while Edwards played 30 snaps.

The last time Edwards had more playing time than Biermann was in Week 3 at San Diego. In that game, the Falcons had 56 defensive plays with Edwards taking part in 35 and Biermann on the field for 29 of them.

I think this shows the Falcons no longer are determining playing time by who makes the most money. They’re basing it on production. So far, Biermann has been more productive than Edwards. Biermann has been in on 20 tackles and has one sack. Edwards has six tackles and no sacks.

The other thing that stands out when you look at playing time for Atlanta’s defensive ends is that veteran John Abraham has taken part in 234 defensive plays. That means Abraham’s been on the field for 75 percent of the plays.

Abraham’s been productive with three sacks and two forced fumbles. But the fact he’s playing so much is mildly troubling. Abraham’s 34 and has had some nagging injuries in recent years. He’s been healthy this season, but the Falcons might be wise to start limiting his playing time a little bit.

They could give Edwards a little more playing time or start working Lawrence Sidbury into the rotation more. There’s a long season ahead and it’s in Atlanta’s best interest to keep Abraham as fresh as possible.