Dante Fowler spent most of last year dealing with injuries, ones that limited him to 14 games and took a bite out of his usually fearsome speed. He ended 2020 with a career-low 3 sacks, but he was bouncing back nicely in the early going here in 2021, having put up 2 sacks already, forcing two fumbles and leading the team in pressures in the first five games of the season.
Unfortunately, injury is once again going to take a bite out of a season for Fowler. We already knew he’d be missing Sunday’s game against the Dolphins, but now it looks like he’ll be going on injured reserve.
We have placed Dante Fowler on IR. https://t.co/9jUbCESXCD— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) October 22, 2021
With Fowler now set to be out at least three games, the team is going to have to lean heavily on a collection of young players and veterans on one-year deals. Rookie Ade Ogundeji is coming off the best week of his young career and is likely going to slot in as the top option opposite Steven Means, but hopefully Jacob Tuioti-Mariner can also get a longer look given his production in limited snaps thus far in 2021. Brandon Copeland will likely round out that rotation, though practice squad pass rushers James Vaughters and Quinton Bell may be up to contribute on a limited basis.
As Scott Bair wrote, this hurts an already limited Falcons pass rush that is heading into a prime matchup against a shaky Miami offensive line. They’ll hopefully have Fowler back after three weeks, but in the meantime it’s going to be on Dean Pees and these players to really step up and deliver to ensure the Falcons can at least get some pressure on Tua Tagovailoa and the quarterbacks they’ll face after Week 7. Hopefully Ogundeji in particular can build on last week, as the team was clearly counting on him being a major contributor sooner than later regardless of Fowler’s injury.
Injuries suck, man. We’ll hope Fowler recovers swiftly and we see him back out there soon.