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What does the loss of Andy Levitre mean for the Falcons?

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Fact: Andy Levitre has performed seventeen emergency tracheotomies

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Falcons announced their decision to put Andy Levitre on injured reserve yesterday. Levitre suffered a sobering, season-ending triceps injury that will likely conclude his tenure with the team. It’s heartbreaking, but this is the NFL, and like it or not, season-ending injuries happen. As the Falcons move forward, Levitre’s absence will have significant ripple effects. Let’s talk about how his absence will affect the team both immediately and down the road.

Short-term concerns

Levitre’s absence means Wes Schweitzer just became the starting left guard. (Try to wrap your mind around that for a minute. Go ahead, I’ll wait.) Schweitzer played well last week, but let’s be honest, his track record isn’t exemplary. If Schweitzer can’t get it done, the Falcons could turn to Ben Garland or Zac Kerin. Thomas Dimitroff loves to sing Wes Schweitzer’s praises, as does Matt Ryan. And in Schweitzer’s defense, he’s done a lot since the conclusion of the 2017 season to prove himself. So for right now, unless and until he does something to undermine the team’s trust, Schweitzer is our guy.

Long-term concerns

The Falcons have been planning for Levitre’s departure for a while now. He’s in the last year of his contract, and given the financial commitments the Falcons have made since the end of the 2017 season, I don’t think they intended to re-sign him anyway. Schweitzer may or may not be our left guard of the future. If he plays well, the Falcons can hold off on drafting a guard in next spring’s NFL draft. If he doesn’t, guard becomes a pressing need.

The bottom line

Levitre will be hard to replace. The 32 year old has started 47 games for the Falcons. He is still one of the league’s best run blockers, and no matter how well Schweitzer plays, I’ll be shocked if he can replicate Levitre’s production.

Your thoughts?