Elijah Wilkinson

Falcons Activate OL Elijah Wilkinson From IR, Designate OL Matt Hennessy For Return

Still in the mix for their first NFC South title since 2016, the Falcons made some moves on offense Monday. Multiple offensive linemen are moving back into the picture for the run-oriented squad.

The Falcons activated Elijah Wilkinson from IR and designated Matt Hennessy for return. Even after Wilkinson’s activation, the Falcons still have five injury-return moves remaining. Hennessy has been out of action since Week 9; Wilkinson since Week 8.

[RELATED: Falcons To Place Marcus Mariota On IR]

After a multiyear run as a Broncos spot starter, when he was primarily asked to fill in for Ja’Wuan James due to the latter’s 2019 injury and 2020 opt-out, Wilkinson landed with the Bears last season. Chicago used Wilkinson as a starter just once in 2021, but he won Atlanta’s left guard job out of training camp this year. Wilkinson, 27, has started all seven games he has played this season. A knee injury halted that stretch.

Atlanta’s starting center from 2020-21, Hennessy lost his job to Drew Dalman ahead of this season. The third-year blocker filled in for Wilkinson at guard in Week 9. The Falcons have run out four starting left guards this season. Hennessy, Colby Gossett and ex-Jet Chuma Edoga have seen time since Wilkinson’s injury. The 5-8 team will be better-positioned at this spot in Week 15, particularly if it activates Hennessy by Saturday’s deadline. The Falcons let Jalen Mayfield‘s IR-return window close last week, ending the former third-round pick’s season.

Although the Falcons are in good shape for IR activations, they released Damien Williams from their injured list Monday. The veteran running back, who joined Wilkinson in coming over from the Bears (along with ex-Chicago GM Ryan Pace) this offseason, has been out since September due to a rib injury. Williams is believed to be healthy, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

Williams, 30, worked as the Chiefs’ top backfield option between Kareem Hunt and Clyde Edwards-Helaire‘s Kansas City stays and played a major role in the team’s Super Bowl LIV-winning push. Williams scored 10 touchdowns between the 2018 and ’19 postseasons. The Chiefs released Williams in 2021, after a COVID-19 opt-out, and he logged 40 carries alongside David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert last season. The Falcons have turned to Tyler Allgeier and Caleb Huntley more in Williams’ absence, and both young players will not see a Williams activation disrupt their roles.

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/30/22

Today’s minor NFL transactions:

Atlanta Falcons

Los Angeles Rams

Minnesota Vikings

Tennessee Titans

OL Rumors: Pipkins, Packers, Vikes, Falcons

Practically the only need the Chargers did not address this offseason was right tackle, where incumbent Storm Norton and backup Trey Pipkins waged a summer competition. It looks like there will be a change up front for the Bolts. Pipkins appears to have beaten out Norton for the gig, Daniel Popper of The Athletic notes (subscription required). The two are swapping roles, with Pipkins — a 2019 third-round pick — leaving his swing tackle post to try his luck as a starter again. Norton, who replaced Bryan Bulaga early last season and made 15 starts, worked with the second team throughout practice this week and saw time as the second-string left tackle as well. Pipkins, 25, has made 10 career starts. While the Chargers demoted him in 2021, they were impressed with his left- and right-side spot starts late in the season. The University of Sioux Falls product, who is going into a contract year, will work on a line full of free agency investments (Corey Linsley, Matt Feiler) and first-round picks (Rashawn Slater, Zion Johnson).

Here is the latest from the O-line scene:

  • Staying on the right tackle topic, Elgton Jenkins is expected to settle in there when he returns, per Albert Breer of SI.com. A high-end Swiss Army knife for the Packers, Jenkins made the 2020 Pro Bowl at guard and began last season as David Bakhtiari‘s left tackle fill-in. An ACL tear sidelined Jenkins in November. Jenkins would stand to command more in earnings with a quality right tackle season, though staying on the field in 2022 will position him for a lucrative deal no matter where he lines up. The Packers removed both players from the active/PUP list this month but do not yet know if Jenkins and Bakhtiari — who have not played together since December 2020 — will be ready for Week 1, Matt LaFleur reiterated Sunday. When healthy, a Bakhtiari-Jenkins duo would be one of the league’s best tackle tandems.
  • The Vikings are on the verge of having five homegrown first- or second-round picks as O-line starters. Second-round rookie Ed Ingram is “trending” toward being the Vikes’ right guard starter, Kevin O’Connell said (via the St. Paul Pioneer Press’ Chris Tomasson). Although Minnesota signed Jesse Davis and Chris Reed as potential stopgaps, Ingram has impressed since moving to first-team duty during camp. Ingram worked with Minnesota’s first team in joint practices against San Francisco, with Davis — who had taken some days off to rest a surgically repaired knee — shifting to the second team, Tomasson adds. Ingram was also held out of the Vikings’ preseason finale Saturday, and while O’Connell stopped short of locking the LSU product into the lineup, that is the likely scenario. Ingram would join 2021 first-rounder Christian Darrisaw, 2020 second-rounder Ezra Cleveland, 2019 first-rounder Garrett Bradbury and 2018 second-rounder Brian O’Neill on a fully homegrown Vikings line.
  • Free agent pickup Elijah Wilkinson looks to have commandeered the Falcons‘ left guard spot, per D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, who notes the former Broncos and Bears blocker looks set to play ahead of 2021 third-rounder Jalen Mayfield. The Michigan product struggled as a rookie, ranking as a bottom-10 Pro Football Focus guard. Mayfield did start 16 games, so a demotion is certainly notable for player who started one with the Bears last season. Wilkinson’s most relevant NFL work came in Denver, when he served as Ja’Wuan James‘ primary replacement from 2019-20. Mayfield may already be on Atlanta’s roster bubble, per Ledbetter.

Minor NFL Transactions: 3/17/22

Today’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Miami Dolphins

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

San Francisco 49ers

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/17/21

Today’s minor moves:

Chicago Bears

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Los Angeles Rams

New Orleans Saints

  • Activated from Reserve/COVID-19 List: RB Mark Ingram

New York Giants

Washington Football Team

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/26/21

Here are the latest minor moves from around the NFL:

Buffalo Bills

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Dallas Cowboys

Los Angeles Chargers

Minnesota Vikings

New York Giants

Minor NFL Transactions: 8/4/21

Here are Wednesday’s minor moves, with the list being updated throughout the day:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Denver Broncos

  • Signed: CB Saivion Smith
  • Waived/injured: OT Cody Conway; Conway suffered a torn ACL

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Rams

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

  • Waived/injured: S Brandon White

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Placed on IR: DB DeMarkus Acy; Acy suffered a torn ACL
  • Waived/injured: OT Anthony Coyle

Bears To Sign OL Elijah Wilkinson

The Broncos’ primary right tackle over the past two seasons, Elijah Wilkinson will relocate. The free agent offensive lineman revealed on Instagram he will join the Bears.

Wilkinson wrapped up his Bears visit earlier Tuesday, and 9News’ Mike Klis noted (via Twitter) the sides were close on a deal. It appears Wilkinson will be set to be part of Chicago’s next O-line group. It’s a one-year deal, per the Chicago Tribune’s Brad Biggs (on Twitter).

This move comes after the Bears passed on Bobby Massie‘s 2021 option. Massie had served as Chicago’s right tackle starter for the past five seasons. Since 2018, Wilkinson has logged 26 starts — at both tackle and guard — and became essential for a Broncos team that saw its high-priced right tackle essentially miss two full seasons. Ja’Wuan James missed almost all of Denver’s 2019 season, thrusting Wilkinson into a full-time role on the right side, and then opted out of the 2020 campaign.

Given a second-round RFA tender by the Broncos last year, Wilkinson suffered a leg injury that limited him to nine games in 2020. The former UDFA did not perform like an upper-echelon right tackle, grading among the lower half at his position in the view of Pro Football Focus, but has extensive experience now as a starter there.

Wilkinson worked as a guard in 2018, helping Phillip Lindsay to the first of his two 1,000-yard seasons, and has competed with Garett Bolles for Denver’s left tackle spot as well. But James’ issues made Wilkinson a full-time right tackle over the past two seasons.

The Bears have also re-signed O-lineman Germain Ifedi this month. While Ifedi played right tackle in Seattle, he started 16 games with the Bears at guard last season. While the team could continue to bolster its O-line, Wilkinson appears set to at worst step into their swing tackle role next season.

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/21/20

Here is Saturday’s usual flood of minor moves:

Atlanta Falcons

Carolina Panthers

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Indianapolis Colts

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

Washington Football Team