ATLANTA — The Atlanta Falcons waived Brian Banks, the linebacker who was attempting to make a late start to his NFL career after spending five years in prison on a conviction that was later overturned.
The 28-year-old Banks spent five years in prison and five years on probation following his conviction of rape and kidnapping charges a decade ago. The woman who made the charge when Banks was 16 later recanted her accusation.
The conviction was overturned by a California court last year.
Banks had two tackles, including one for a loss, in the Falcons’ 20-16 preseason loss to Jacksonville on Thursday night. He was listed as the third-string middle linebacker and faced an uphill battle to make the team.
“Brian is a guy that has not played football in 10 years,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said after Thursday night’s game. “He has really matured and progressed as a football player since we’ve had him on our roster.”
Banks signed with the Falcons in March. He said Thursday he faced a different challenge than most players competing for roster spots as he tried to make up for his lost decade.
“My learning curve is definitely different from a lot of the guys here,” Banks said. “I was learning a lot of the one-on-one basic things of football as well as the intermediate things of football and meshing them all together at once in a small period of time. It was definitely challenging, but I’ve enjoyed myself the whole time.”
Banks had tryouts with Kansas City, San Diego and San Francisco and attended minicamp with Seattle last year before spending the 2012 season with Las Vegas of the United Football League.
The Falcons trimmed their roster to 62 players on Friday. Rookie quarterback Sean Renfree, who left Thursday night’s game with a shoulder injury, and tight end Andrew Szczerba were placed on injured reserve. Renfree was a seventh-round pick from Duke.
Among players waived were safety Charles Mitchell, running back Ronnie Wingo and kicker Jeremy Shelley.
Also waived were offensive linemen Theo Goins and Alec Savoie, defensive tackles Neal Huynh and Micanor Regis, cornerbacks Terrence Johnson and Peyton Thompson and linebacker Pat Schiller.
The team must trim its roster to 53 players by Saturday at 6 p.m.