It has been clear for a little while now that the Falcons would be placing at least a couple of players on injured reserve to start the season, so it was more of a question of when than if. Today’s announcement still manages to be surprising, because it includes five players.
Deion Jones, Jalen Mayfield, Isaiah Oliver, Marlon Davidson, and John FitzPatrick are all headed to injured reserve, per the team.
Davidson and FitzPatrick were the expected additions, but not the biggest names on the list. It was announced previously that Davidson would miss at least the rest of preseason, and now he’ll miss at least a good chunk of the beginning of the season. When he gets back, Davidson should be a contributor for a thin defensive line.
FitzPatrick, meanwhile, is a rookie blocking tight end with upside. He had missed the final preseason game and there was speculation he’d be headed to injured reserve, and now we’ve seen that made official. When he returns, he’ll likely be the team’s fourth tight end.
The other three names are more surprising. Mayfield has been dealing with a back injury that limited him this summer, part of the reason he missed time and didn’t push Elijah Wilkinson very hard for the starting job. He’ll recuperate and return as a reserve on the offensive line unless Wilkinson implodes.
Oliver must just not quite be ready for the season yet. We’ve seen him throughout the summer patiently working his way back from last year’s major injury, and hopefully this is not an indication that he’s had any sort of setback in that recovery. While he’s on the shelf, rising cornerback Dee Alford and Mike Ford will likely take snaps at nickel, with Alford potentially starting Week 1.
Finally, there’s Jones. We’re hopeful this isn’t a sign of a setback for him, either, but an indication that like Oliver he might need more time to recover before he’s at 100%. When he returns he’ll look to work his way back into playing time at the inside linebacker group, which is fairly deep at the moment with Rashaan Evans, Mykal Walker, rookie Troy Andersen, the recently re-signed Nick Kwiatkoski and rookie undrafted free agent Nate Landman.
We’ll hope all five of these Falcons are healthy soon, and that we see them return as soon as they’re eligible.