The Falcons are mostly healthy heading into Week 1 of the regular season. They’re down Josh Andrews at left guard and will be throwing Jalen Mayfield directly into a Fletcher Cox-shaped fire, sure, but by and large their starting lineup will be intact and hopefully good enough to triumph over Philadelphia.
Mostly healthy is not injury-free, though. Kendall Sheffield and Brandon Copeland seem to be uncertain for Sunday, and one of those players is more surprising than the other.
No Brandon Copeland at practice today again for the Falcons. Key day there could be Wednesday/Thursday.— Michael Rothstein (@mikerothstein) September 6, 2021
Sheffield was reportedly headed to injured reserve to start the season, but whether the Falcons think he’ll be back on the field sooner or have some financial reason to delay making that move isn’t quite clear. Arthur Smith has said Sheffield “should be getting close,” but whether that means he has an outside shot at contributing on Sunday is murky at best. I’d still bet that he won’t suit up, but we may actually see him in the first three weeks of the season, which is something I would not have bet on a few days ago.
For Copeland, the injury is clearly shorter-term than Sheffield’s—we’ve been getting Sheffield injury updates for about a month now—but his status for Sunday is no less murky. Those injury reports on Wednesday and Thursday, as Rothstein noted, will probably give us a better idea of whether either one will play, but it’s just as likely that they’re both listed as questionable on Friday afternoon and we have just as much idea of their status then as we do today.
If these two can’t go, the Falcons will likely haul one of the quartet of George Obinna, Emmanuel Ellerbee, James Vaughters or Quinton Bell up to the active roster from the practice squad for the week to take Copeland’s spot. Atlanta seems less likely to worry about replacing Sheffield, given that they have a six man depth chart without him if you count T.J. Green. Regardless, they’d probably prefer not to start the season without a pair of useful reserves, especially since Copeland was probably ticketed for a decent-sized role in this outside linebackers group.
Stay tuned for updates.