The Atlanta Falcons have had the injury bug pay them an early visit for 2019.
The Falcons announced Wednesday that defensive end Steven Means has torn his Achilles in OTAs and will miss the upcoming season. Contact is not permitted during OTAs, and Jason Butt of The Athletic noted that it was a non-contact injury.
Was a non-contact Achilles injury during Monday’s OTA practice. https://t.co/N2Ge20ey0p— Jason Butt (@JasonHButt) May 22, 2019
It’s hard, hard news for Means, a journeyman who found a home in Atlanta and was being primed for a bigger role in the team’s defensive end rotation. He signed a one-year extension in February and was one of the team’s only moves at the position this offseason.
The move puts Atlanta in a bit of a bind. Means projected to be a key player in the team’s base defense, a role he grew into in 2018. Right now, the Falcons don’t have ton of depth at the position, and his loss puts the onus on rookie edge John Cominsky to play a bigger role in the rotation. Cominsky came into the University of Charleston as a quarterback, and needs development as an NFL defensive end.
The team has Vic Beasley, Takkarist McKinley and Adrian Clayborn (a return that looks better and better by the day) for veterans in the room, but don’t be surprised if the team goes after a rotational edge to make up for the loss.
They could also bring back Derrick Shelby, who helps against the run and whose snaps Means helped to fill in 2018 when Shelby himself went down with injury. Veterans William Hayes, Dion Jordan, Andre Branch, Michael Johnson, Mitch Unrein and Frostee Rucker remain unsigned, per Spotrac.
We wish Means all the best with his recovery and consider this a definite bummer for the season ahead and the already-shaky status of the edge group. We’ll see how the team chooses to respond to the loss.