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An unfortunate injury for LaRoy Reynolds has opened up a huge opportunity for Jermaine Grace

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The UDFA has a real shot at a major role sooner than later.

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Atlanta Falcons Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

There’s no real positive way to spin LaRoy Reynolds’ injury. Whether he returns late in the year or misses the entire season, the Falcons are down a defender who proved to be a quality reserve, solid extreme short-term starter, and vital special teamer. They’ll replace him, but uneasily.

The most logical choice to replace him is the man who could wind up being Atlanta’s fourth linebacker over the long haul. That would be rookie Jermaine Grace, the only 2017 undrafted free agent to claw his way on to the final roster, and suddenly a player we’re going to be watching with a lot of interest in the weeks ahead.

Grace will need to prove his value on special teams first—Ishmael will likely be the first linebacker up if the Falcons need help beyond their three excellent starters—but he’s going to have a small role on defense, as well. It helps Grace immensely that Quinn asks his linebackers to play instinctually and use their athleticism, because Grace is athletic out of the box and has pretty good instincts for a UDFA. I think he’ll fare well.

Remember: Reynolds and Kemal Ishmael are both free agents after this season, which means if Grace can prove his worth, he’s virtually guaranteed a decent-sized role in 2018. Like many of you, we’ll be rooting hard for him.