Sanders should help Falcons' secondary, special teams

ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Falcons added secondary depth and a quality special teams performer Wednesday, signing unrestricted free agent cornerback Lewis Sanders, who had played the previous two seasons with the Houston Texans.

Contract details were not immediately available.

Sanders, 28, is a big (6-foot-1, 210 pounds), physical cornerback who has never played up to his enormous potential, in part because of injuries. He appeared in nine games for the Texans in 2006, including a career-best seven starts, but finished the season on injured reserve with a broken hand.

The former University of Maryland standout likely will compete for the No. 3 cornerback spot in Atlanta, as well as for playing time on special teams.

But under first-year coordinator Mike Zimmer, roles have yet to be determined, and the only cornerback assured of a starting job is two-time Pro Bowl performer DeAngelo Hall. So if Sanders is healthy, it is conceivable he could contend with Jason Webster and Jimmy Williams for the other starting cornerback spot.

Originally a fourth-round pick of Cleveland in the 2000 draft, Sanders played five seasons for the Browns (2000-04) before signing with Houston as a free agent in 2005. He has 141 tackles, five interceptions and 31 passes defended in 73 games, including 19 starts.

Sanders also has 43 special teams tackles.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.