Falcons Report: Marcus Mariota headed to IR with phantom injury

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The Falcons hadn’t officially announced the decision to bench Marcus Mariota in favor of Desmond Ridder, despite reports surfacing last week of the team’s intention to turn to the rookie. And since the team was on their bye week, it was understandable. On Monday, though, Arthur Smith took the podium, speaking for the first time, and officially announced the decision to roll with Ridder as the team’s starter.

However, it was accompanied by some surprising injury news on the former starter. Smith told members of the media that Mariota has a “chronic” knee injury, adding that he “anticipated” the veteran to hit the injured reserve, which makes sense after the Falcons signed Logan Woodside off the Titans practice squad.

“Signed Logan Woodside for depth,” Smith stated. “The move was made as Marcus goes … he’s got a chronic knee that he wants to get evaluated. It had nothing to do with this decision, but he’s not here right now. We’ll see how the rest of the week goes, but anticipate him going on IR.”

Smith went on to specify that the team made the switch before Mariota’s injury was discussed. He went further to say the move to start Ridder was a “performance-based” decision.

Marcus Mariota didn’t appear on a single injury report throughout the season, and now he’s supposedly headed for the IR because he’s been dealing with a knee injury the entire year? Personally, I don’t buy it. I don’t know why Smith would do this, but I don’t buy it.

The phantom injury frequently occurs in the NFL, whether that be a defender faking an injury (a la Cam Jordan) as an opposing offense drives the field or something like this that is more of an administrative move. It just seems fishy as soon as the decision was made to turn to Ridder was the exact moment Mariota’s “injury” was so bad it required an IR stint, but the quarterback change was ultimately “performance-based” and not injury related.

Photographer: Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire

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