INDIANAPOLIS -- The Atlanta Falcons already started getting rid of some veteran players like cornerback Asante Samuel and linebacker Stephen Nicholas.
It looks like Osi Umenyiora is safe.
Asked about Umenyiora's future at the NFL Scouting Combine on Thursday, coach Mike Smith lauded his pass rusher's leadership and production, saying Umenyiora did an "outstanding job" overall as a player and mentor. He said Umenyiora's presence was key for the defense and made it sound like the defensive end remains in the team's plans despite a $4.5 million salary.
"I am never gonna say never. ... But I'm looking forward to continuing to work with him," Smith said.
The Falcons badly need pass-rush help with Umenyiora and Kroy Biermann projected as starters, with very little depth behind them. It's safe to say now, however, that the two-time Super Bowl champion is off the roster bubble.