Jalen Mayfield was the presumptive favorite for left guard duties heading into the summer, given that the Falcons hadn’t acquired much in the way of competition. Two weeks into training camp, however, Mayfield appears to be well behind free agent addition Elijah Wilkinson, and apparently he’s also dealing with an injury at the moment.
Per Falcons head coach Arthur Smith and as relayed by The Athletic’s Josh Kendall, Mayfield has a “lower back issue” that kept him out of practice today. There’s no set timetable for his return, though Smith said “hopefully next week.”
Here's why left guard Jalen Mayfield missed practice today. Head coach Arthur Smith said "hopefully next week" for a Mayfield return. pic.twitter.com/a0TLzDjy4g— Josh Kendall (@JoshTheAthletic) August 5, 2022
This is obviously the last thing Mayfield needs. The second-year guard was hoping to put his stamp on the position after rough rookie season, and he has ground to make up on Wilkinson if he’s going to start again in 2022. Instead, he’ll be on the shelf for at least a little while, dealing with the type of injury that can linger for a while. I’m legitimately bummed out for him.
While he recuperates, Wilkinson will continue to try to sew up the left guard job, a position he hasn’t played in the NFL to this point but appears to be putting his mark on in the early going. If Mayfield doesn’t return soon and Wilkinson fares well in preseason action, it’s probably time to consider this competition over. Either way, we hope Mayfield recovers and is back on the field soon.