The importance of having good depth is going to be underscored early for the Atlanta Falcons, as starting left guard Josh Andrews is hitting injured reserve with a broken hand. He suffered the injury in practice Tuesday, per a report from NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.
Atlanta probably would’ve claimed guard Colby Gossett from the Browns regardless—he has ties to offensive line coach Dwayne Ledford—but now there’s at least a real possibility he’ll be asked to start in Week 1 against the Eagles. It’ll come down to him and Jalen Mayfield in the short term, with the hope that Andrews will be back and able to play after three weeks on injured reserve.
The #Falcons are placing starting left guard Josh Andrews on injured reserve after he broke his hand in practice Tuesday, per source.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) September 1, 2021
Andrews will have minor surgery. Not expected to be long-term and IR rules this year allow players to return in as little as three weeks.
This is not the corresponding move I expected after we learned about the Gossett pickup. Andrews was not the most inspiring option as the team’s starting left guard, but to his eternal credit he’s essentially held the job all summer long despite sharing some first team reps in practice with Mayfield in particular. He was expected to be a major piece of a line that Arthur Smith and company want to help revitalize a run game that has been moribund in recent years.
The loss of the former Jet immediately tests Atlanta’s offensive line depth, and given that Mayfield didn’t look at all ready for primetime in preseason, the addition of Gossett might be with an eye on having a player Ledford knows well stepping in on a short-term basis. If Mayfield is the team’s future at left guard, I’d honestly prefer they get him in there and let him take his lumps, as I’ve said throughout the summer. Whether the Falcons feel comfortable doing that remains to be seen.
We’re glad this doesn’t seem like a long-term injury for Andrews, and we’ll hope he’s back after three weeks. The Falcons will have to hope they can get by (or better) at left guard until then.