Due to NFL offseason rules, Arthur Smith doesn’t have to reveal anything related to player injuries if he doesn’t want to, and the first-year head coach is taking advantage of that. Before Kaleb McGary returned from the PUP list, Smith would vaguely dance around reporters’ questions about his timeline, rarely giving any substantial information outside of loose timetables for his return — “he’s doing everything we’re asking of him.”
Smith has given even less information regarding Matt Gono‘s injury. Gono showed up to training camp in a neck brace, and Talkin’ Birdy’s Matt Karoly believes it to be a herniated disc. If true, he could miss the entire season — J.J. Watt missed an entire year with a similar injury. The offensive line looked to be in dire need of bodies after two of their top three tackles were absent from the start of camp. The staff moved Jalen Mayfield over to compete at right tackle, signed Jason Spriggs, and gave Willie Beavers more reps.
Smith then gave Beavers first-team reps during the team’s open practice at Mercedes-Benz Stadium because he earned them after beating everyone the coaches put in front of him, which isn’t that impressive when you think of the players he’s beating — Ade Ogundeji, Jacob Tuioti-Mariner, and Steven Means. Smith said after today’s practice that Spriggs would return next week, Beavers will work both tackle positions, and Mayfield will get reps at right tackle.
Sounds like Falcons OL Willie Beavers will get some LT work on Friday and Jalen Mayfield at RT.
Also sounds like Jason Spriggs will be returning next week, same with Kaleb McGary. Right tackle competition about to get real.
— Michael Rothstein (@mikerothstein) August 11, 2021
Does it seem like the Falcons are trying to find their swing tackle? I believe so. If anyone but McGary starts at right tackle, I’d be shocked. Still, the staff needs to find someone to be that third tackle who can play both sides. The swing tackle that Gono was going to be. This is giving me a feeling that Gono’s injury is a bit more serious than once expected. Only time will tell, but I don’t feel good having Beavers as the teams third tackle.