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Former Penn football star and 2017 graduate Alek Torgersen was released by the Atlanta Falcons last week, but landed on his feet when the Washington Redskins quickly scooped him up for their practice squad.

Credit: Ananya Chandra

In a span of only a couple of days, former Quaker star Alek Torgersen’s NFL dreams were dashed, and — just as suddenly — resurrected.

Torgersen was on the 90-man roster for the Atlanta Falcons, who had signed the undrafted free agent to a three-year $1.6 million contract immediately after April's draft. Unfortunately for the 2017 graduate, this past Friday afternoon he was cut ahead of the required reduction to a 53-man roster for the regular season. 

The Washington Redskins, however, quickly pounced on the Ivy League standout, signing him to their practice squad on Sunday.

Torgersen had only a small chance of making the Falcons' 53-man roster in the first place. Last year’s NFC champions carried only two quarterbacks in 2016: reigning MVP Matt Ryan and backup Matt Schaub. When Schaub signed a contract extension to stay in Atlanta in the offseason, the opportunity for a new quarterback to take his roster spot was eliminated.

The only realistic way for Torgersen to make the Falcons would have been to play well enough in preseason to convince Falcons' management to carry a third quarterback.

However, instead of the near-perfect play he would have needed to make the Falcons' regular season roster, Torgersen flew below the radar. In three preseason appearances, he earned only limited looks as the fourth quarterback behind journeyman Matt Simms.

Torgersen’s stat line across those three games wasn’t pretty: the rookie went 8 for 20, passing for 95 yards and no touchdowns to go with two interceptions, all resulting in a passer rating of 15.6. Torgersen also added three rushes for 14 yards.

His stats don’t tell the whole story, however. One of his two interceptions hit the receiver in the hands before bouncing straight to the defense. Torgersen also made highlight reels with a 51-yard play to fellow rookie Darion Griswold. 

The Falcons didn’t see enough to justify having Torgersen on the payroll, but the Washington Redskins did. Washington signed Torgersen to their practice squad on Sunday after the release of quarterback Nate Sudfeld. With the Redskins’ long-term quarterback situation under question, Torgersen could develop into an intriguing option for Washington past 2017.

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