The Atlanta Falcons earned their third victory of the season, 23-20 over the New York Giants. Despite winning the game, the Dirty Birds took yet another loss on the injury front.
During the second quarter of the game, a NY defensive lineman was blocked and fell to the ground. Tragically he fell right onto the feet and legs of Atlanta Falcons guard Brandon Fusco. The horrible result is a broken ankle. Fusco will miss the rest of the season.
Brandon Fusco, the Atlanta Falcons’ prime free agent signee this past offseason, was immediately placed on injured reserve. The Falcons made a series of moves to shore up the offensive line. The team waived guard Zac Kerin. Kerin a former Viking and Lion, was signed when Andy Levitre was injured.
The Dirty Birds also released JD Hassenauer an undrafted free agent center out of Alabama, from the practice squad. The practice squad spot was filled with a familiar name, as former fourth round pick guard Sean Harlow, was signed after being released from the Indianapolis Colts practice squad.
The one of the open spots on the active roster was also taken by a familiar name as well. The team resigned offensive tackle Austin Pastor, who was released just before the season began.
The other roster spot was secured by guard Rees Odhiambo. Rees was signed by Atlanta, from the Indianapolis Colts practice squad. Rees spent the last two seasons working for Coach Dan Quinn’s former employer, the Seattle Seahawks.
D. Orlando Ledbetter of the AJC tweeted about the two signings:
— D. Orlando Ledbetter (@DOrlandoAJC) October 24, 2018
Ben Garland will step in and start for Fusco. Garland is five-year veteran out of the Air Force Academy, and has been with the Falcons for the last three seasons. It’s unknown if Wes Schweitzer will be moved back to right guard, or if Garland will play the right side.
The Falcons front office raised some eyebrows when Ben Garland was resigned to a one year 2.9 million dollar contract, to be the fourth guard. I even speculated that he might play more defensive tackle, like he has in the past. In retrospect, the Atlanta Falcons needed him for depth at the guard spot.
Ben Garland started three games at guard for the injured Andy Levitre last season. He played great in one game, and below average in the other two. He played very well on Monday after replacing Fusco. Hopefully he can keep that momentum going.
Brandon Fusco became the six player the Atlanta Falcons placed on injured this year. Fusco, guard Andy Levitre, strong safety Keanu Neal and free safety Ricardo Allen are all out for the season. Running back Devonta Freeman and middle linebacker Deion Jones are both eligible to return, after missing at least eight games.
Of the six players on injured reserve, the Falcons have an even three on offense, and three on defense. Each side of the ball also has one player eligible to return from injury.
The other parallel is that both sides of the ball have lost both starters at one position. Both starting guards and both starting safeties are out for the year.
The Atlanta Falcons are back on the right track, after winning their last two games. The bye week comes at the optimal time. The team needs healing, and the coaching staff needs time to recalibrate, due to all of the injuries.
More than anything, the injury bug needs to move out of Atlanta. I understand that Football has a “next man up” mentality, and depth is a major part of football. However as talented as the Falcons are, already being down three pro bowl players, they can’t sustain many more major injures.
We will have more on the upcoming battle against the Washington Redskins as well as breakdowns of the action that has taken place this far. Stay with ATL All Day, as will also have the latest on all of your favorite Atlanta area sports teams. As always, we thank you for reading.