All Alex Mack has done since he arrived in Atlanta in 2016 is stabilize a troubled center position, one that had featured a revolving set of starters after the Falcons dumped Todd McClure. He’s started 78 games in Atlanta, was a critical cog in a dominant line in 2016, and has been one of the team’s most durable and consistent starters over the past five seasons.
The widespread expectation is that his great run in Atlanta will be done after 2020, given that his contract is up and the Falcons are about to land in a spot of cap trouble. We all hoped the Falcons would send him off on a high note, but the season went sideways and Mack suffered a concussion and missed his first regular season game as a Falcon last week because of it.
Unfortunately for Mack, he likely won’t get the opportunity to push his way onto the field for Sunday against the Buccaneers to play one final game for the Falcons, because the team has placed him on the reserve/COVID-19 list. That means the positive test announced earlier this morning likely belonged to Mack.
“What he’s done throughout the years is nothing but go out and play in a Super Bowl while he had a broken leg,” Falcons interim coach Raheem Morris said. “He played a bunch of games for us and he’s been able to go out there and throw his body around and be just an all-around pro. He’s been a guy that’s been able to go out there and lead the o-line into being a really good unit. Got a lot of young players that he was able to set great examples to for a long time.”
It is, to be blunt, a crappy ending to a terrific career in Atlanta, and I’m extremely bummed out for Mack. The hyper-durable center has put together the kind of career spanning over a decade that may someday earn him real consideration for Canton, given that he’s been one of the most dominant players at his position throughout his career and likely isn’t done playing.
In Mack’s absence, Matt Hennessy will get another start at center and a chance to prove he belongs as the starting center going forward. I’m excited for him to get the opportunity and hopeful he’ll prove to be the long-term solution, but I really wish it didn’t have to happen because of this.