Training camp and preseason help teams get ready for the regular season and determine the contours of their 53 man roster, but they also tend to be places where players get hurt. If you’re fortunate, these injuries are relatively minor and not far-reaching so they impact the entire season ahead, but they are always huge bummers.
The Falcons already waived Sterling Hofrichter and put him on injured reserve, and now reserve tight end Jaeden Graham is headed for the reserve/injured list. Unfortunately, per The Athletic’s Tori McElhaney, it sounds like Graham’s non-contact injury suffered on Wednesday is going to keep him out for the rest of the year.
Tough development regarding Graham: out for the year with a knee injury. https://t.co/DglTr65m6H— Tori McElhaney (@tori_mcelhaney) August 5, 2021
Graham was one of three tight ends fighting for a presumptive fourth spot at the position this upcoming season, along with blocking-minded free agent signings Parker Hesse and Ryan Becker, and was the player I had penciled in for the job due to his proven pass catching ability. Atlanta will now either roll with the trio of Kyle Pitts, Hayden Hurst and Lee Smith, hold on to whoever impresses out of the Hesse and Parker duo, or go out and sign someone after cutdowns. For the moment, they’ve used their open roster spot to add yet another wide receiver in Trevor Davis, a 28-year-old who has played for several different teams and has experience as both a kick and punt returner in his NFL career.
I’m deeply bummed out for Graham, who sounded eager to carve out a role in Arthur Smith and Dave Ragone’s offense and figured to be a useful reserve and quality special teamer for Atlanta. The latter is probably a bigger deal than it appears at first, given that Hofrichter is already going to miss (potentially significant) time and Graham played 69% and 48% of the special teams snaps the past two seasons. Someone’s going to have to step up to replace him.
Here’s hoping Graham’s recovery is smooth and swift, and that the Falcons bring him back for another shot at a roster spot in 2022.