The Atlanta Falcons announced on Wednesday morning that cornerback Isaiah Oliver returned to practice from injured reserve.
Oliver played the nickel-corner position for the Falcons last season, before he injured his knee and was lost for the year… and part of 2022.
It was a tough blow for Oliver who was playing the best football of his career in his first year under defensive coordinator Dean Pees. Oliver had struggled at cornerback since being selected in the second round out of Colorado in the 2018 draft, but he found a home at nickel under Pees.
Oliver had a 72.6 grade from Pro Football Focus last season before being injured.
The Falcons knew Oliver might not be 100% to start the season, but re-signed him as a free agent knowing he could be a key piece of the secondary for the majority of the year.
The Falcons are off to a good start at 2-2, and his addition could not have come at a better time. ESPN’s Michael Rothstein pointed to the Falcons’ inability to get off the field on 3rd down as one of the problem areas the team still faces on defense.
The Falcons are allowing opponents to convert 44% of third-down chances, ranking 24th out of the 32 teams. The defense has been much improved from a season ago, but this is the next step toward being the type of unit that defensive coordinator Dean Pees wants to have in Atlanta. — Michael Rothstein, ESPN
Oliver has a 21-day practice window before he must either be added to the 53-man active roster or put on season-ending injured reserve. Don’t expect to see Oliver playing this weekend against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but his return to practice is a big step in the right direction.