FLOWERY BRANCH — Three players who started for the Atlanta Falcons last season were among those cut on Friday.
Cornerback Dominique Franks, linebacker Spencer Adkins and fullback Mike Cox were let go as the team got down to the mandated 53-man roster for the start of the regular season.
The Falcons also released long snapper Joe Zelenka, who held that role for the past three seasons. He was beaten out by rookie Josh Harris.
Franks was a fifth-round pick in 2010 and made four starts last season. Christopher Owens and Robert McClain claimed the backup roles behind Brent Grimes, Dunta Robinson and Asante Samuel.
Adkins started the playoff loss against the New York Giants in place of injured Stephen Nicholas, but the Falcons are going with only five linebackers. Mike Peterson and Robert James are the backups behind starters Sean Weatherspoon, Akeem Dent and Nicholas.
Cox was signed last year after Ovie Mughelli went down with a season-ending injury and started five games. But Lousaka Polite, who spent the past six seasons with Dallas and Miami, was brought in during the preseason and won the spot.
Among the other moves, receiver Kerry Meier was waived-injured, while safety Shann Schillinger went on injured reserve. In addition, the Falcons waived linebacker Rico Council, receiver Drew Davis, tackle Bryce Harris, linebacker Jerrell Harris, center Tyler Horn, receiver Marcus Jackson, cornerback Marty Markett, running back Dimitri Nance, defensive tackle Conrad Obi, defensive tackle Micanor Regis, receiver James Rodgers, linebacker Pat Schiller, cornerback Peyton Thompson and safety Suaesi Tuimaunei.
The team reached injury settlements with tight end Lamark Brown and guard Andrew Jackson.