Earlier today, the Falcons had Takk McKinley listed as not practicing, and then as a limited participant. It turned out that distinction wasn’t all that important, however, because Takk is now out against the Saints this Sunday.
Unfortunately, he’s not alone. Starting running back Devonta Freeman, reserve defensive end Derrick Shelby and reserve linebacker Corey Nelson are all going to miss the game. Thankfully, it sounds like Julio Jones will play.
Per the #Falcons injury report today, Takk McKinley and Devonta Freeman have both been ruled out for Sunday's game against the Saints— William McFadden (@willmcfadden) September 21, 2018
This is objectively bad news. Takk was the team’s most productive pass rusher at defensive end thus far in 2018, and without him, there’s just not a lot of punch at the position against the Saints. Vic Beasley has been very quiet, Brooks Reed runs hot and cold, and Steven Means has promise but is entirely new to the team. The Falcons will likely line up Jack Crawford and Grady Jarrett at end in shorter-yardage situations, as Jarrett in particular can win off the edge if need be. The pass rush is going to be a problem against a quality Saints offense, though, no matter what.
We expected Freeman to be out, which leaves Tevin Coleman and Ito Smith as a scary 1-2 punch against the Saints, especially after they did great work against Carolina’s beefy front seven a week ago. We’ll have to see if Wes Schweitzer can repeat his excellent performance in Week 3, but the offense looks like it’s in strong shape against New Orleans. The defense, on the other hand, is probably going to scuffle, and we’ll just have to hope it’s not enough to lose the Falcons the game.
We’ll also hope for a swift recovery for Takk in particular. The injury situation this year has been brutal.