Senat did not end up settling into a feature role during his rookie season out of South Florida, logging just two starts and playing 34 percent of the defensive snaps for a Falcons defense that ranked 25th against the run in 2018. With Terrell McClain's contract expiring this winter, however, it's foreseeable that Atlanta will embrace the youth movement and make Senat a more integral part of the team's identity defensively. Senat was a dominant run stopper during his collegiate career, and showed enough potential during his debut NFL campaign to merit increased playing time moving forward.
Head coach Dan Quinn said Thursday that Senat was inactive against New Orleans due to a coach's decision to have more pass rushers available in the defensive rotation, Kelsey Conway of the Falcons' official site reports.
The rookie third-round draft choice wasn't acquired with the expectation that he would be a game-wrecking pass rusher, but coming off a six-sack season as a senior at South Florida, his goose egg in the sack column is slightly disconcerting. Senat has come close on a couple occasions at least, registering three quarterback hits this season despite only playing 33.5 percent of Atlanta's defensive snaps. The most discouraging aspect of this 2018 campaign for Senat is the fact that opposing starting running backs have rushed for over 285 yards and three touchdowns in his two starts. (James Conner and Nick Chubb combined for 394 total yards and four touchdowns in Week 5 and Week 10.) It remains to be seen if Senat will be reactivated for the Falcons' next game against Baltimore, facing a Ravens offense that elects to pass 59.1 percent of the time.
Senat was a limited participant in all three of Atlanta's practices this week, but lacks an official injury designation. The third-round rookie appears on track to suit up against the Browns in Week 10, and will play through a lingering shoulder issue. Senat will serve a rotational defensive role, and could be a factor in trying to contain Nick Chubb and Cleveland's ground game.
The rookie third-rounder was limited for last Wednesday's practice, but upgraded to full participation for Thursday's session and ultimately fielded 26 defensive snaps during a 38-14 victory over Washington. There's minor concern that consecutive limited outings could foreshadow an inactive designation for Senat in Week 10, but the positive spin is that all five Falcons who were listed as limited last week ending up playing against the Redskins. Senat won't be on the field if it comes as a substantial risk to his long-term well being, but if able to go, he will be an X-factor in trying to contain Nick Chubb and a Cleveland offense that ranks top 10 in yards per rush this season (4.5).
Senat (neck/shoulder) was a full participant in Thursday's practice, Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com reports.
Senat was limited in practice to begin the week, but he appears on track for Sunday's game against Washington. The third-round rookie has served a valuable rotational role on Atlanta's defensive line this season, but he could see a slight decrease in defensive snaps with Grady Jarrett having returned to full health.