Ravenwood grad Chris Rowland might be able to latch onto an NFL roster this September.
The former Raptor and Tennessee State University offensive ace signed an undrafted free agent deal with the Atlanta Falcons in April, one padded with incentives.
This usually means an NFL team really wants an undrafted player and has specific plans for them. Indeed, it looks like Rowland, a wide receiver, is factoring into a roster battle already in Flowery Branch.
Via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Jason Butt, Falcons head coach Dan Quinn said that Rowland is one of main two guys taking reps right now for team's kick and punt returning job. The AJC's D. Orlando Ledbetter adds Quinn said they both are "looking good" in the roles.
Rowland had a whopping 1,437 yards in the air and eight touchdowns and 2,110 all-purpose yards last fall with the TSU Tigers. He was earned the Black College Football Player of the Year this past February, and won the OVC's Offensive Player of the Year last fall.
The team shared an impressive haul Rowland had in a training camp session, and one of the team's reporters, Matthew Tabeek, mentioned him in a recap post.
"Chris Rowland may be short (he's listed as 5-foot-8, 170 pounds), but he's got a compact frame and you can see the quickness," Tabeek wrote.
Working in Rowland's favor is that the Falcons do need a returner, and the competition seems to be a two-man battle at this point in juncture.
Working against Rowland is Powell's status as a slight elder statesman on the roster and the fact that there is no NFL preseason this year due to the pandemic for him to impress the coaches. All of his reps will have to be gotten in inter-team scrimmages and practices.
Though, with NFL practice squads expanding to 16 this year, the former Ravenwood talent could latch on there if he does not win Atlanta's returner battle or make it with another team.
If Rowland shines during in-practice reps with the offense, it will boost his chances to make the roster. He could filter in as a situational player since he would be active on game day as the returner.
The Falcons begin their season at home against the Seattle Seahawks on Sept. 13, though the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic could alter those plans.
Time will tell if Rowland is a part of that opening day roster, with the practice squad or perhaps elsewhere in the NFL.