As we begin to ponder the possibilities for the Atlanta Falcons season, we must first ask ourselves who is healthy and who might miss the first game against the Minnesota Vikings.
On Wednesday, Dan Quinn said the team hadn’t settled on the starter at right tackle. Matt Gono was downgraded from limited on Wednesday to out on Thursday, which may help solidify the decision.
Just got the injury report from the Falcons: Matt Gono was downgraded to DNP today with a back injury. He was limited yesterday. Julio Jones was limited today but it was a rest day -- the team specified it wasn't injury related.— Jeañña (@jeannathomas) September 5, 2019
Being downgraded on Thursday for a Sunday game does not portend well for Matt Gono, who is the assumed starter at right tackle if rookie Kaleb McGary cannot play just yet.
McGary’s heart procedure left a good chunk of his season in jeopardy, so just the fact that he may be able to play Sunday is pretty remarkable. McGary was gassed after just a half of the Week 4 preseason game, and his conditioning may not quite be where it needs to be to be game-ready. Don’t be surprised if the team waits on him a bit and lets veteran tackle Ty Sambrailo take the lead at right tackle.
Sambrailo can be relied on in a pinch, but it’s ideal for Atlanta if McGary can go sometime soon or if Gono can get back to health with his back. Of course, back injuries are funky and can require unknown amounts of time to heal, so we’ll see how Atlanta chooses to fill his shoes since he looks unlikely to play: give McGary the keys permanently or let Sambrailo hold down the fort.
As for Julio Jones, his rest day is likely in order to give him a little breathing room before Week 1. Jones said during his post-game press conference that he was just a little sore from practicing inside on the turf on Wednesday.
Jones says he’s playing Sunday, which, well, is probably dependent on the team finally giving him the contract extension he’s been working to get since 2018. The saga has never directly impacted game day, but a holdout shouldn’t be a shocking turnout when the team has had so long to get a deal done.
Regardless, the team looks relatively healthy going into this Vikings game, which is encouraging. Right tackle is up in the air, of course, as is Jones’ status.
Let’s hope this contract situations is resolved by the weekend so Jones is a guaranteed start come kickoff.