Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Paul Soliai won't be on the field tomorrow afternoon. The team officially ruled him out yesterday as he continues to recover from a calf injury. It's a significant loss for the Falcons, a team that really needs to put its best product on the field to have any chance to win tomorrow.
Soliai has rediscovered himself following the head coach transition. He had a lackluster 2014, drawing the ire of Falcons fans everywhere. Even so, the team gave him a pass, knowing his potential. The
hefty manbeast run blocker extraordinaire has helped anchor the Falcons' defensive front this season. It's resulted in a run defense that's been, on the whole, pretty stout. Sure, Adrian Peterson and Doug Martin brought the Falcons run defense back to Earth last week and the week before. But I'm going to treat that as the exception to the rule, recognizing that Peterson and Martin are exceptional players.
The natural consequence of Soliai's absence is additional playing time for rookie Grady Jarrett. According to head coach Dan Quinn, you'll see an uptick in Jarrett's playing time this week. That's not a bad thing, because Jarrett hasn't played like a rookie this season. In fact, he's arguably been the Falcons' most effective defensive lineman. Granted, he'll be asked to do different things while filling in during Soliai's absence. But if his ability to contribute early and often this season is any indication, the Falcons will be just fine.