Duke Riley’s rookie season had been a bumpy one up until the point where he was injured against the Patriots, but his speed and athleticism were evident, and the experience figured to set him up for future success. The development time, and Riley’s quiet progress in coverage on those occasions when he was called upon, were important and encouraging, and the injury figures to rob him of multiple weeks of tha time.
So it’s good news indeed that Riley’s knee surgery appears to have been successful, as he tweeted today. We just still don’t have a real timetable for his return, with Dan Quinn saying a couple of weeks and everyone else seemingly projecting a month.
Surgery came out great! Thanks for all of the Prayers and Thoughts!! I can’t wait to get back on the field with my brothers!— Duke Riley (@1Goal1Dream) October 26, 2017
With Riley sidelined, the Falcons have said they’ll figure out a way to get even more use out of De’Vondre Campbell, who is having a great season thus far and could rotate between the strong and weak side as the team needs. In non-nickel sets, the Falcons will probably roll out Kemal Ishmael as the third linebacker, with Sean Weatherspoon potentially working his way in if he’s up to speed in short order. Rookie Jermaine Grace could find his way into some playing time if those options falter, but for now, he’s primarily playing special teams with Jordan Tripp sidelined.
Oh, yes, and Tripp is sidelined. He continues to work his way through the NFL’s concussion protocol, and while Tripp was barely playing on defense, he was a useful special teamer. We’ll hope he’ll return soon as well.
The Falcons will need to continue to lean heavily on Campbell and Deion Jones, one of the better young linebacker duos in the NFL, if they’re going to improve defensively and win games. They should both be up for it, and hopefully Riley will return soon and find his way to greater success when he does.