Tosh Lupoi

Falcons To Be Without Defensive Lineman, DL Coaches In Week 6 Due To COVID-19

The Falcons are still scheduled to play the Vikings at noon CT on Sunday. But more news is trickling out about their run-in with the coronavirus.

Defensive lineman John Cominsky joined rookie defensive tackle Marlon Davidson on Atlanta’s reserve/COVID-19 list Saturday, and Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets that Cominsky also tested positive for the virus. Additionally, Falcons defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi and assistant D-line coach Jess Simpson have been identified as close Cominsky contacts. They are not traveling with the Falcons to Minnesota.

Cominsky and Davidson are the only Falcons to have tested positive this week. The team moved A.J. Terrell off its COVID-19 list earlier this month. While it would not be surprising if other Falcon D-linemen landed on the COVID list, none have thus far. That has prompted the NFL to keep their game against the Vikings on as scheduled.

The Falcons closed their facility earlier this week and continued to work in a virtual capacity Thursday, but the team reopened its facility after no more positive tests came in the immediate aftermath of Davidson’s. The Falcons are taking two planes to Minnesota and leaving injured players in Atlanta, per Pelissero (on Twitter). This is certainly a situation to monitor ahead of Sunday morning.

Cominsky started in Week 1 for the Falcons but has worked as a reserve in the four games since. However, the second-year defender has played 53% of Atlanta’s defensive snaps. Defensive tackle Chris Slayton and linebacker Edmond Robinson will come up from the practice squad ahead of Sunday’s Vikings tilt.

Position Coaches: Gilbride, Flaherty, Lupoi, Tolbert

Panthers head coach Matt Rhule is beginning to fill out the position coaching spots in Carolina. Kevin M. Gilbride will be in charge of the team’s tight ends and Pat Flaherty is expected to be named the team’s offensive line coach, per Alex Marvez of Fox Sports. Gilbride has extensive experience as a tight ends coach, serving in the position with the Giants from 2014-17 and with the Bears from 2018 until he was fired last month.

The Panthers will be the fifth NFL organization to hire Flaherty as an offensive line coach. Flaherty worked as the offensive line coach from 2004-2015 with the Giants followed by a one-year stint with the 49ers, a two-year stint with the Jaguars, and a a short period with the Dolphins in 2019. While Flaherty brings a long line of experience, he was fired in Miami prior to the end of training camp after struggling to implement the team’s scheme.

  • The Falcons have named Browns defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi as the team’s defensive line coach and run game coordinator, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. Lupoi was a collegiate defensive lineman at Cal, where he began his coaching career in 2008. After a stint with the University of Washington as the defensive line coach, he joined the staff at Alabama, eventually becoming the team’s defensive coordinator in 2018. Lupoi moved to the professional coaching ranks for the first time when he joined Freddie Kitchens‘ staff prior to this season.
  • Giants new head coach Joe Judge will not be making changes to the entire coaching staff. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, reports that Judge is expected to retain wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert. While New York struggled in many areas this season, the receiving corp showed impressive depth. Tolbert was credited with helping late-round pick, Darius Slayton, become a legitimate receiving option.

Browns Hire Ex-Cardinals DC Al Holcomb

The Browns have hired former Cardinals defensive coordinator Al Holcomb as run game coordinator/linebackers coach, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link).

Cleveland hired ex-Arizona head coach Steve Wilks as its new defensive coordinator earlier this week, so it’s no surprise to see Holcomb follow him to the Browns’ staff. Wilks and Holcomb’s history together dates back to 2013, when Wilks served as the Panthers’ assistant head coach/defensive back while Holcomb was Carolina’s linebackers coach. Holcomb continued to work under Wilks when he was promoted to the Panthers’ DC role in 2017, and followed him to the desert last season.

In Cleveland, Holcomb will helm a linebacker group that’s high on talent but lacked results last season, at least in the run game. While the Browns ranked 11th in Football Outsiders‘ adjusted line yards (meaning their defensive line was productive), the club finished next-to-last in second level yards, an indication that opposing running backs weren’t being tackled by Cleveland’s ‘backers. Joe Schobert, notably, tied for third among all defenders in missed tackles in 2018, but ranked second among linebackers in Pro Football Focus‘ pass coverage grades.

The Browns will also add Alabama defensive coordinator Tosh Lupoi to their staff as defensive line coach, tweets Bruce Feldman of FOX Sports. Lupoi — who’d been with the Crimson Tide since 2014 — led a number of future NFLers at Alabama, but this will mark his first coaching gig in the pro ranks.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.