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For bubble players, it’s now or never

According to Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff the players on the roster bubble definitely know who they are and are told that they need to show some urgency in the fourth preseason game.

Fifteen preseason games will be played tonight. Most football fans don’t really care. Plenty of football players do; specifically, those currently fighting for roster spots.

Some teams convey the now-or-never message directly and expressly to the players on the bubble.

“We pinpoint guys throughout the entire preseason, and we know who is living up to their potential,” Falcons G.M. Thomas Dimitroff told Thursday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio and NBCSN. “For some reason or another, if someone isn’t and we definitely address them, [coach] Dan [Quinn] will address them, I will address them. We’ll give them subtle encouragement. Sometimes it’ll be a follow up and say, ‘Look. we’ve talked to you about this, this is set of a last-ditch effort for you to step up and do what you need to do and show us what you need to show us in order to make this football team.’ I’m a big believer in that.”

Dimitroff said that the message often comes from the player’s position coach. Certain players get the message directly from one of the two bosses.

“To come from a head coach and a General Manager to subtly pull them aside and say, ‘Hey look this is a very big game and you need to show more urgency in your game. You need to get more balls, you need to get after them in the air if you’re a defensive back. You need to get up field and show more power as a defensive lineman,’” Dimitroff said. “All the small little things that are question marks are worthwhile in my mind to talk to the kids about so they know going into the final game they need to show that in order to possibly make the team.”

For Dimitroff and his staff, the challenge of trimming the roster from 75 to 53 begins after Thursday night’s game against the Jaguars.

“Luckily, we have a home game right so we’re not traveling,” Dimitroff said. “The last two games we’ve been traveling. We don’t get home until probably 3:30 or 4:00 in the morning so it becomes a really long day. We’re going to be fresh and ready to go. Tomorrow morning, we’ll get in really early and we’ll just really start to game plan on where we truly are as a roster. Dan and I will sit down and spend a lot of time on that. We’ll work with Scott Pioli and Joel Collier on the personnel side. We’ll discuss what we truly feel that our needs are after this game. We have a really good idea right now, but the final strokes we’ll figure it out and we’ll spend a lot of time during the day talking about it.

“We will begin to get rumors that are coming in about who’s released and we will really try to home in on some of those rumors. Sometimes, we’re discussing it with other people in the league and other information that’s coming in, and we’ll really dial in on those players. So we’ll get a jump start on watching players before the actual waiver wire comes out. You and I both know how that happens. There could be potential trade talks during that time. It’s just a busy day but the thing that I’m really happy about is I feel we don’t have any real glaring holes within our roster. So the needs and the direction that we’re going in the next couple days, which will be busy and there will be a lot of involvement with myself and Dan where appropriate of course, but I don’t think it’s a situation where we’re going to be needing a starter at a certain position. These are all role players for us that we’ll continue to look to upgrade our roster.”

It’ll be important to upgrade however they can. As Dimitroff acknowledged, the NFC South seems to be as wide open as any division, with all teams capable of winning the title the Panthers have owned for the last three years.