Depleted Falcons cut Schulters, elevate Turnbull

ATLANTA -- Just three days after signing with Atlanta as a free agent, veteran Lance Schulters has been released, so that the injury-ravaged Falcons could add a more prepared and game-ready player to their decimated secondary for Sunday's contest here with the Cleveland Browns.

An eight-year veteran, Schulters, 31, will be re-signed next week. He practiced three days with the team, but since he is still working his way into shape and familiarizing himself with the defense, he was not scheduled to dress for Sunday's game.

So desperate is Atlanta for ambulatory secondary players that the team was forced to elevate rookie safety Nick Turnbull from the practice squad.

Turnbull, 25, was signed by the Falcons this spring as an undrafted college free agent, and has been on the practice squad the entire season. The former Florida International standout is a big (6-foot-2, 216 pounds), physical hitter. Given the dearth of healthy bodies in the Atlanta secondary, he could see playing time in nickel or dime situations, and likely will be on the special teams units.

The Falcons lost cornerback Chris Cash to a season-ending broken arm in the final exhibition game. In last Sunday's loss at Detroit, safety Kevin Mathis suffered a broken neck that probably will end his career. And then, at midweek, starting cornerback Jason Webster was diagnosed with a torn groin, which will sideline him for at least a month, and perhaps the rest of the season.

Both starting cornerbacks, Pro Bowl defender DeAngelo Hall (hamstring) and rookie Jimmy Williams (ankle), who will make his first regular-season start on Sunday, are operating at less than 100 percent.

Rather than try to force Schulters onto the field before he is ready, the Falcons opted to go with Turnbull as an insurance policy.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click hereInsider.