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Falcons injuries pile up in loss to Titans

Grady Jarrett, Drake London, and others exit Sunday’s game.

NFL: London Games-Atlanta Falcons at Jacksonville Jaguars Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Falcons have not been injury-free this season, but they have been fairly fortunate with their injury reports. The past few weeks, they’ve fielded a 53 man roster that has been close to full strength, and had blessedly not lost any additional starters after Troy Andersen landed on injured reserve.

Unfortunately, that luck turned sour on Sunday against the Tennessee Titans. The Falcons lost Grady Jarrett early and that loss showed up on the field, as the Falcons pass rush wilted even more than usual and their run defense scuffled for stretches against the great Derrick Henry. They lost Drake London later on, robbing themselves of their sideline grab artist and best receiver. While he was ultimately cleared after being evaluated for a concussion, Desmond Ridder sat out the entire second half. Fullback Keith Smith exited the game with an injury, as well, and Kaden Elliss, Lorenzo Carter, and LaCale London left and then returned.

Those are some major blows to this Falcons team, and with Jarrett and London in particular, we’re waiting anxiously to see what the news will be. Drake London said after the game that he was “fine,” which hopefully is an encouraging sign, but Arthur Smith told reporters that the Falcons were waiting on scans and Jarrett was not available after the game. That feels more ominous, but we’ve seen ominous-seeming injuries turn out to be less serious than feared, so we have to hang our hopes on that.

Atlanta’s defense will not be the same without Jarrett for any length of time, and the team will likely push Calais Campbell inside more, with heavier snaps for their bevy of reserve options like LaCale London (assuming he’s fully healthy), Ta’Quon Graham, and possibly Albert Huggins up front. If London misses any time, the Falcons will lean more heavily on Kyle Pitts, Van Jefferson, Mack Hollins, and Jonnu Smith, but he is not an easy player to replace regardless. The Falcons, who have been losing games even with these two gifted players on the field, can ill-afford to be without them.

Sunday was a brutal reminder that you can never avoid injuries for all that long, but we have to hope some of Atlanta’s most vital starters can return sooner than later. The Falcons have games against the Kirk Cousins-less Vikngs and so-so Cardinals next, but it doesn’t feel good to contemplate even those easier opponents with a less-than-full-strength Falcons squad.