NFL long shot Banks makes Falcons’ first round of cuts

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Linebacker Brian Banks and his inspiring story are still standing after the Atlanta Falcons pared down to the NFL-mandated maximum of 75 players on Monday — roughly 30 hours before the deadline.

Banks had been offered a scholarship to play at USC — for then-head coach Pete Carroll — but instead went to prison after being falsely accused.

By the end of this week, the Falcons will make 22 more cuts. And Banks, a long shot, faces a tough competition at linebacker because undrafted rookies Joplo Bartu and Paul Worrilow have made big impressions.

Bartu played 29 snaps (46 percent), the second-most among linebackers, in Saturday’s preseason loss to the Tennessee Titans and earned time with the first team. He totaled four tackles, tied for fifth on the team. Worrilow played 18 snaps (29 percent) and had two tackles. Banks played six snaps (10 percent) and had one tackle.

Last season, the Falcons kept five linebackers on the active roster and four return in addition to Bartu, Worrilow and Banks. End Kroy Biermann is also playing more outside linebacker, as the Falcons transition to a more multiple look in their front seven.

On Sunday, the Falcons cut 11 players: tight end Tim Biere, fullback Devonte Campbell, linebacker Nick Clancy, tight end Colin Cloherty, quarterback Seth Doege, defensive end Cam Henderson, tackle Jeff Nady, running back Donald Russell, safety Troy Sanders, center Matt Smith and defensive end Brandon Thurmond.

On Monday, they cut three more, all wide receivers, to get down to 75: Rashad Evans, Marcus Jackson and Marcus Sales.