The Falcons injury bug is going around camp. First, the team waived Sterling Hofrichter and placed him on the injured reserve, and now Jaeden Graham is headed to the reserve/injured list. Unfortunately, it looks to be much more serious than once considered after The Athletic’s Tori McElhaney reported that Graham’s knee injury is expected to be a season-ending one.
Tough development regarding Graham: out for the year with a knee injury. https://t.co/DglTr65m6H
— Tori McElhaney (@tori_mcelhaney) August 5, 2021
In a coordinating move, the Falcons signed journeyman receiver/ kick returner Trevor Davis, who is likely just a camp body. He’s not impressive as a wideout unless it’s a go route, and the Falcons already have a crowded kick/punt returner room. Still, I fully expect Arthur Smith to carry four tight ends, which many speculated Graham to be that fourth tight end, given his receiving prowess. This is a massive blow as Graham’s value on special teams will have to be replaced too.
There are limited free-agent tight ends left on the market, and I assume Terry Fontenot will rely on an internal candidate to take Graham’s place. Still, a few names in free agency could intrigue Fontenot and Smith if nobody from within steps up — Richard Rodgers, Trey Burton, Virgil Green, Josh Hill (retired).
In the 13th episode of Talkin’ Birdy, SportsTalkATL’s Falcons podcast, the trio of hosts gave their predictions on the final 53-man roster. Before this news of Graham’s injury, I made the point that Arthur Smith may choose to go with Parker Hesse or Ryan Becker as the fourth tight end instead of Graham because they’re blocking-first tight ends. With Kyle Pitts and Hayden Hursts on the depth chart, the position group has more receivers than blockers, which led me to believe Smith could want a second blocking tight end behind Lee Smith.
Still, Graham’s upside is intriguing, and this is an unfortunate injury for an ascending player; hopefully, the Falcons bring him back in 2022 to compete for a roster spot.
Photo: Jeffrey Vest/Icon Sportswire
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