ATLANTA (AP) -The Atlanta Falcons released cornerback Jason Webster on Thursday, ridding themselves of another high-priced flop on defense.
Webster played only 33 games, including 29 starts, during a three-year tenure in Atlanta that was plagued by injuries.
His fate was sealed when the Falcons picked Arkansas cornerback Chris Houston in the second round of the NFL draft. They expect the rookie to compete for a starting job right away, with second-year player Jimmy Williams moving from cornerback to safety.
The 29-year-old Webster had four interceptions and 178 tackles during his time in Atlanta. He didn't come close to measuring up to expectations after the team gave him a six-year contract worth about $18 million, which included a $7 million signing bonus.
Webster played the first eight games last season, holding off a challenge from Williams for the starting job, then tore a groin muscle in practice. He missed the final eight games, and the Falcons slumped to 7-9 to miss the playoffs for the second year in a row.
It was clear that Webster's days were numbered after Atlanta fired coach Jim Mora and brought in Bobby Petrino.
Earlier in the offseason, the Falcons released middle linebacker Ed Hartwell, another prominent free agent signee whose Atlanta career was hampered by injuries.
The Falcons are sure to have a revamped defense, also losing longtime defensive end Patrick Kerney as a free agent. In addition, tackle Rod Coleman was hurt while riding a personal watercraft and could miss the start of the season, while linebacker Demorrio Williams is recovering from surgery after tearing a pectoral muscle working out.
Finally, there's nose tackle Grady Jackson, who has sued the team for defamation and invasion of privacy but is still on the roster. He claims the team released his medical records a year ago, hurting his value in the free agent market before he signed a cut-rate deal with Atlanta.
The Falcons begin a mandatory three-day minicamp on Friday, and Petrino said he expects the 350-pound Jackson to show up.
``That's what his contract reads,'' the new coach said. ``When his situation came about, he informed us that he would not participate in anything that was voluntary. We would anticipate him being here, but I don't know his availability to work. He hasn't been around, so it will be up to the trainers and doctors when he does report.''
After cutting Webster, the Falcons claimed safety Nick Turnbull off waivers from the Chicago Bears.
Turnbull played in two games for the Falcons last season before getting cut in early December. He hooked on with the Bears and got into one game for the eventual NFC champions.

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