FLOWERY BRANCH – Outside linebacker Tyler Starr has been grinding away in practice waiting for his big opportunity in the NFL.
That came on Friday when Falcons coach Dan Quinn broke the news in a team meeting that Starr was being promoted to the 53-man roster from the practice squad.
“(Quinn) told me he had confidence in me and was looking forward to watching me go out there and compete,” said Starr, who will be active when the Falcons play the Jaguars at 1 p.m. Sunday at EverBank Field in Jacksonville.
Starr replaced injured center James Stone, who was placed on the injured reserve after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in practice on Wednesday.
Starr’s journey with the Falcons has been a process. The 6-foot-5, 250-pound linebacker from South Dakota was the 2013 Missouri Valley Conference defensive player of the year. The Falcons selected him in the seventh-round of the 2014 NFL draft.
“I was really raw talent and I didn’t really have the sound technique I think they were looking for,” he said. “So, I really tried to master my craft. From footwork to hand placement to drop angles. Any little way to find a way to get better.”
He didn’t play a snap in his rookie season and this year he was released in the final cuts of the pre-season before signing to the practice squad.
“I was hoping to make the roster out of training camp,” Starr said. “(It) didn’t go that way, but I’m used to working for everything I have so it wasn’t anything new to me.”
Despite not being on the active roster, Starr remained focused on competing and learning everything he could to help his team. Quinn has been impressed with Starr’s work ethic and development and is confident that he’s ready to be a part of the active roster.
“It really shows a lot of grit to not be able to be up and be active,” Quinn said. “He knows to get activated, you have to be somebody who can be counted on and we certainly count on him.”
He’s improved the most with his drop backs, ability to match up on routes and setting the edge. Starr’s post practice work with linebackers coach Doug Mallory has been a major part of his development.
“He has improved in a lot of areas,” Quinn said. “You felt the urgency… You sense that he recognizes the opportunity and is ready to play.”