Falcons could welcome back starting lineman before the stretch run

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The Falcons announced on Wednesday that starting lineman Elijah Wilkinson will return to practice off injured reserve, which officially marks the beginning of the 21-day window the veteran can return to the active roster.

Wilkinson had been a revelation at guard in place of Jalen Mayfield. The Falcons offensive line has improved dramatically since the personnel changes along the front, and Arthur Smith’s diverse run game, driven by Marcus Mariota. But Wilkinson suffered a knee injury against the Panthers in Week 8 and subsequently missed the next four games.

He’s been a key piece along the Falcons’ front, so having him back in the fold should provide a boost down the stretch. During his IR stint, the Falcons started four different linemen over a five-game stretch. Matt Hennessy was called upon first and performed admirably but immediately followed Wilkinson to the IR. Since then, Atlanta has turned to Colby Gossett and Chuma Edoga, who have both performed respectably considering the circumstances.

Hopefully, Wilkinson returns as soon as possible as the Falcons look to chase down the division-leading Buccaneers.

Photographer: Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire

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