Falcons cut DT Lavalais while getting down to 53-player limit

Updated: September 2, 2006, 10:23 PM ET
Associated Press

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Defensive tackle Chad Lavalais, who started 20 games over the last two seasons, was the most notable player waived by the Atlanta Falcons on Saturday.

Lavalais, a fifth-round draft pick out of LSU in 2004, started six games as a rookie and all 14 games he played last season. The 6-foot-1, 292-pounder made 33 tackles, including 2½ sacks, on a defense that gave up more yards rushing than any team in the league in 2005.

If that wasn't bad enough for Lavalais, the coaching staff was irritated by his lackadaisical work ethic. It was clear his days in Atlanta were numbered when he barely played in the first three preseason games and didn't get on the field at all in Thursday's night exhibition finale.

The Falcons signed Grady Jackson during the preseason to bolster the interior line, plugging him into Lavalais' former spot. Second-year players Jonathan Babineaux and Darrell Shropshire will fill backup roles along with rookie free agent T.J. Jackson.

Atlanta also waived former Georgia star Josh Mallard, who was battling for a backup spot at defensive end. The team decided to keep rookie free agent Paul Carrington, also cutting Josh Savage.

Four receivers -- Jerome Pathon, Robert Redd, Troy Bergeron and Jamin Elliott -- got their walking papers. Pathon began training camp as the projected third receiver, but played so poorly that the team traded T.J. Duckett as part of a three-team deal to acquire Ashley Lelie from Denver.

The Falcons rounded out their receiving corps by keeping rookie Adam Jennings and two-year practice squad veteran Kevin Youngblood.

Punter Tony Yelk and kicker Miro Kesic were placed on waivers as Atlanta moved closer to letting Michael Koenen handle all three kicking duties: punting, field goals and kickoffs.

Coach Jim Mora said the team would scan the waiver wire before the Sept. 10 opener against Carolina to see if there's a punter available who might be able to take some of the burden off Koenen, who punted and kicked off last season.

The Falcons also waived defensive tackle Michael Bozeman, center Toby Cecil, offensive tackle Shawn Draper, fullback Kevin Dudley, center Brian Ferentz, running back Marlion Jackson, offensive tackle Chris McGee, fullback John Pannozzo, tight end Jason Randall, cornerback Leigh Torrence, safety Nick Turnbull and linebacker Travis Williams.

Cornerback Chris Cash was placed on injured reserve.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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