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Falcons may be bracing for long-term injury for CB Casey Hayward

The veteran starter may be on the shelf for a while.

San Francisco 49ers v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

Yesterday, Arthur Smith provided mostly good news for Falcons fans anxious about the raft of injuries we saw Sunday against the 49ers. A.J. Terrell, Ta’Quon Graham, Casey Hayward, and Isaiah Oliver all exited the game at some point, and it was fair to wonder if Atlanta might be losing multiple starts for a while after already going without Mykal Walker and Cordarrelle Patterson Sunday, the latter because he’s on injured reserve for a while.

Smith confirmed that only one player has an injury that might be a long-term concern, per ESPN’s Mike Rothstein, but unfortunately that player is Hayward. We don’t yet know what “long-term” means here or how concerned the team is, but the fact that it was even alluded to is a cause for concern.

After a few early miscues, Hayward has settled in to do characteristically strong work in coverage for the Falcons, with Pro Football Reference crediting him with 16 receptions allowed on 28 targets for 198 yards and a touchdown, good for just a 57.1% completion percentage against. That last stat has him tied for 51st in the league with very good corners like Carlton Davis and Asante Samuel Jr., and the upshot is that he’s been a very capable starter. If he’s going to miss significant time, it’s a big blow for this Falcons defense.

The only silver lining here is that Darren Hall appears to be a very capable replacement. The second-year cornerback stepped in on Sunday for Terrell and had a pair of big pass deflections, one of which bounced into Jaylinn Hawkins’ hands for an interception, and has fared pretty well in coverage on the young season. He’s been targeted just five times thus far, allowing four of those passes to be caught for just 54 yards, and Hall is proving to be as aggressive and physical as I had hoped.

We’ll likely get an update later in the week on Hayward’s status, and we’ll certainly hope that the team gets good news for everyone who had to exit the game Sunday.