The Falcons announced a couple of weeks ago that starting left guard Elijah Wilkinson would return to practice off injured reserve, and it’s looking like he’ll be good to go this Sunday against the Saints, which puts the Falcons’ offensive line back at full strength for Desmond Ridder’s first career start.
#Falcons starting LG Elijah Wilkinson is back at practice working with the first team. He'll likely get the roster spot opened up by Mariota going to IR.
— D. Orlando Ledbetter (@DOrlandoAJC) December 14, 2022
Wilkinson suffered a knee injury against the Panthers in Week 8 and subsequently missed the next four games. But he was a revelation at left guard in place of Jalen Mayfield for the games he did appear. The Falcons’ offensive line has improved dramatically without the third-rounder out of Michigan starting, among other personnel changes.
Having the Falcons starting five back from Week 1 will be comforting for Desmond Ridder, who will face a menacing defensive front in his first start. The Saints will be foaming at the mouth to get their hands on Ridder; I’m sure Cam Jordan will say something weird about it too, so be on the lookout for that.
Wilkinson has 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 span. 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.
Photographer: Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire