Matt Bryant going on season-ending IR


Matt Bryant will go on season-ending Injury Reserve as he deals with his quadriceps injury. Shayne Graham will kick for the Falcons for the rest of 2015.

The Atlanta Falcons will not have their automatic field goal kicker in the ageless Matt Bryant for the rest of the 2015 NFL season, as he went on season-ending IR before the Falcons’ Week 14 matchup with division rival Carolina Panthers. ESPN’s Vaughn McClure reports that veteran kicker Shayne Graham will continue to handle the Falcons’ kicking duties in Bryant’s extended absence.

Ever since the road game in Nashville, the last time the Atlanta Falcons won a game, Matt Bryant did not look right kicking field goals for the Falcons. Atlanta won the game 10-7, but he’s missed four field goals this season when he didn’t miss a kick from inside of 50 yards all of last season.

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While it may not ever reveal itself as a major problem during the Falcons’ five-game slide, the special teams unit of the team has not been healthy all year. Atlanta just got back its premier kick returner Devin Hester in Week 13 after he missed nearly four months with a toe injury. It sounds a bit crazy, but the 2015 Atlanta Falcons will not have had both Bryant and Hester active for a single regular season game this year.

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Graham, who has been the starting kicker for the Atlanta Falcons since Bryant went down with a quad injury, has looked well in the last two games for the Falcons. He had four field goals against Tampa Bay and it wasn’t his fault the Falcons lost to both the Vikings or the Buccaneers. Graham, who had been erratic at times in both New Orleans and Houston, seems like a strong replacement for Matt Bryant while he recovers.

Sending Matt Bryant to IR could signify a few interesting possibilities with the long-time Atlanta Falcons’ placekicker:

1. Atlanta may not think that it can make the NFC Playoffs anymore after falling to 6-6 against the Bucs on Sunday. One would think that even with a quad injury, should Atlanta somehow get the 6th seed that they would want back their stellar field goal kicker.

2. His injury may actually be worse than what a quad injury sounds like. For a kicker, that is probably especially painful and it may take more time to heal that for a player of another position.

3. Atlanta may like Shayne Graham and may look at cutting Bryant as a cap casualty next season. Graham is two years younger than Bryant and is getting the job done on kicks that last two weeks.

4. Matt Bryant may decide to hang up the spikes at the end of the year and Atlanta wants to know what they’ve got in Shayne Graham before being in the market for a top-tier field goal kicker.

These are all interesting possibilities, but one thing is certain: the Atlanta Falcons will not have the clutch kicks of Matt Bryant for at least the rest of the 2015 NFL season. Bryant has already solidified his reputation as being the franchise’s second best kicker to only the Hall of Fame-worthy Morten Andersen.

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The amount of time Matt Bryant bailed out the Dirty Birds with his leg are numerous. Hopefully we haven’t seen the last one of the league’s best field goal kickers in Atlanta Falcons uniform. Here’s to seeing him drain more 50 yard field goals next year at the Georgia Dome, hopefully one of which buries the Saints at the end of regulation. Rise Up!