On Thursday the Atlanta Falcons claimed offensive lineman Sam Jones after he was waived by the Indianapolis Colts. Later in the day, the club made another roster move, acquiring tight end Parker Hesse, 25, a player that new coach Arthur Smith is familiar with, as Hesse spent the last two seasons on Tennessee’s practice squad following a distinguished college career at the University of Iowa.
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Hesse—6-foot-3 and 261 pounds–entered the NFL in the spring of 2019, signing with the Titans following a tryout. Last year he explained his role on the Titans to the Waukon Standard:
“On the practice squad I spent the week lifting, meeting and practicing with the team. My role in practice would change each week depending on the look our starting defense needed along with preparing for each week’s game plan.
“For the most part I would just run plays as the opposing team’s tight ends,” he added. “Sometimes that was a high-profile player like Travis Kelce or Hunter Henry, but a lot of times it was guys who would have more of a blocking role in their particular offense. I also played on the defensive look squad a few times just because I have experience doing that.”
Hesse’s Award-Winning Career at Iowa
Hesse started his career at Iowa as a linebacker and converted to defensive end during his first year. Over the course of his college playing career (2015-19) he appeared in 52 games and was responsible for 182 total tackles, including 31 tackles for loss, four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and two interceptions.
But he was best-known for his relentlessly positive attitude, and for being a tireless worker and the quintessential team player. That helps explain the many awards he won while a Hawkeye. In 2018, for example, he won the Big Ten Conference Sportsmanship Award, the school’s Hayden Fry Award, defense . . . the Coaches Appreciation Award, defense . . . the Iron Hawk Award . . . and the Team Hustle Award, defense, the latter of which he won for three consecutive seasons.
Hesse Faces an Uphill Battle to Win a Job with the Falcons
Hesse will be battling for a roster spot—or more likely, a place on the practice squad—as Atlanta now has six tight ends on its offseason roster, headlined by No. 4 overall pick Kyle Pitts and former first-round draft choice Hayden Hurst. Behind those two there’s Jaeden Graham, as well as Lee Smith, who was acquired from the Buffalo Bills in mid-March at the cost of a 2022 seventh-round draft choice. The Falcons also have Ryan Becker in the fold, who spent part of last year with the Arizona Cardinals.
As for the aforementioned offensive lineman Sam Jones, he’s a former sixth-round pick of the Denver Broncos (2018) who appeared in five games as a rookie. After the Broncos waived him in 2019, he was added to the practice squad of the Cardinals. At the tail end of 2020 he was signed to the Colts’ practice squad, and he went on to sign a Reserve/Future contract with Indianapolis for 2021.
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