The Falcons now have an issue at tackle and improved depth at guard.
The injury news this week mostly seems positive. The Falcons welcomed Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage back to practice along with Marlon Davidson, and guard Josh Andrews is finally back in the fold. It’s just not all good news.
Starting right tackle Kaleb McGary just landed on the reserve/COVID-19 list yesterday, putting his status for Sunday’s game in doubt. SB Nation crashing sort of put us behind on this news, so chances are you’ve already heard this, but let’s talk a little bit more about the implications.
We have placed Kaleb McGary on the reserve/COVID-19 list and activated Josh Andrews from IR. https://t.co/ZIJNOGsJLD
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) October 18, 2021
As Tori McElhaney wrote yesterday, there’s always the chance McGary is swiftly cleared and plays Sunday, in which case nothing really changes for this offensive line. The Falcons seem unlikely to pull Jalen Mayfield out of the lineup for Andrews, so Andrews would slot in comfortably as a veteran reserve on the interior.
If McGary isn’t back for the Dolphins game, question marks emerge. The likeliest scenario is reserve tackle Jason Spriggs taking the starting right tackle job for one week, given that he has nine games of starting experience and the team kept him around as the sole full-time reserve tackle on the roster. In that scenario, Willie Beavers would presumably be flexed to the active roster on Sunday to serve as depth, and Spriggs would hopefully be able to hold his own for the week.
The only other scenario that seems even semi-plausible is the Falcons transferring Mayfield to right tackle, given that he spent quite a bit of time there over the summer. Given that Mayfield seems to be settling in at left guard, that would be a move I wouldn’t support, and one that thankfully feels unlikely. We’ll mention it in case Arthur Smith wants to throw a real curveball and give Mayfield a regular season look at the position, but that would seem really unlikely unless they really want Andrews in the starting lineup.
We’ll have to see how this plays out with McGary, but hopefully he’ll be fine and the Falcons can keep building on their improving offensive line performances in recent weeks with the same starting five.