There is one primary goal of the offseason — get to the regular season as healthy as possible. Obviously, the Falcons front office needs to evaluate the players the best they can, which they can only do if they’re playing, so injuries are inevitable. However, they’re more prominent when coaches play starters in the preseason, which Arthur Smith elected not to do until the final matchup against the Browns. Even against Cleveland, Smith elected to sit his most valuable players — Matt Ryan, Jake Matthews and Calvin Ridley.
There was a concerted effort by the staff for the roster to walk into the regular season, not crawl. For the most part, they were successful, and the Falcons enter the first game of the 2021 season with a clean bill of health as the team released their Week 1 Injury Report. There were concerns that versatile linebacker Brandon Copeland wouldn’t be able to strap it up because of a hamstring injury, but he will play.
The title is correct: “Falcons enter the regular season with clean bill of health.” Still, that isn’t entirely true — hence, the “(sort of).” The Falcons aren’t 100% healthy; they just don’t have anyone on the Injury Report, but that doesn’t take into account the players on the Injured Reserve. Kendall Sheffield, Josh Andrews, Matt Gono, AJ McCarron, Ryan Becker, Deadrin Senat, and Jaeden Graham are all on the IR — all of whom serve important roles on the team.
Gono was in line to compete at right tackle and left guard. Andrews was considered the starting left guard before an injury derailed that idea. McCarron was surely in line to be the backup quarterback, which could’ve resulted in Feleipe Franks being cut. At most, two potential starters are now unavailable for the home opener against Philly. So yes, for the most part, the Falcons have a clean bill of health as none of these players move the needle, but it is disingenuous to say the Falcons are completely healthy.