If it wasn’t already abundantly clear during the Falcons win in week 2, the injury bug has firmly bitten the franchise. First, Kroy Biermann and Bradie Ewing were placed on injured reserve on Monday, ending each player’s season, and now, two of the Falcons’ biggest stars will be sidelined for significant amounts of time.
First, linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, who injured his foot in Sunday’s win, has been placed on the Injured Reserve list with the “designated to return” label per an official team release:
The Falcons placed LB Sean Weatherspoon on injured reserve with a designation that he can return during the season: http://t.co/CjDm1eml5b
— Atlanta_Falcons (@Atlanta_Falcons) September 17, 2013
For translation, this means that Weatherspoon will be sidelined at least 8 weeks of game action, and while he’ll be allowed to practice with the club after 6 weeks, the first possible action for the team’s best linebacker will be week 11 against the Tampa Bay Bucs.
This is a devastating loss for an already-banged up defense, as Weatherspoon is one of the team’s best players on that side of the ball, and unquestionably, the leader of the linebacking corps. It is somewhat fortunate that this roster distinction exists, allowing him to come back this season, but that is a small win in an otherwise dismal announcement.
As far as replacement options are concerned, the Falcons will either turn to a player not currently in the organization, or some sort of tandem between rookie LB Joplo Bartu and Paul Worrilow could be in the cards. Either way, this is a big-time blow to an already questionable unit.
As if things weren’t bad enough on the injury front, Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network tweeted this bit of news surrounding Steven Jackson on Tuesday:
More not-so-great news for the #Falcons? RB Steven Jackson (thigh) may miss 2-4 weeks, source says. Officially viewed as week-to-week though
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 17, 2013
Though this is much less definitive than the Weatherspoon announcement, it is still very much a negative. Initial thinking was that Jackson could be ready for Week 3 despite his thigh injury, but this assertion that he could miss up to a month is troubling.
The running game is blessed with a bit more depth than the linebacking corps, and fortunately, Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling seem poised to pick up the slack a bit. However, Jackson presents a far different, more explosive dimension that the Falcons desperately need out of the backfield, and his speedy return would be enormous.
Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.