After last week’s horrendous showing against the Saints, there could be changes on the horizon for the offensive line.
Quarterback Matt Ryan was hit 11 times and sacked a season-high six times against New Orleans. The running game was non-existent, accumulating 26 yards on 16 carries. The longest gain of the day was 9 yards by Ryan, whose 16 yards led the team in rushing.
Hardly a recipe for success.
“If we do want to go down that road to add some reps for some guys into the game,” Coach Dan Quinn said. “That's something that we're going to assess and if there's a thought that we can do it better, then we'll certainly try to do that.”
The offensive line is playing without two starters. Guard Andy Levite was lost to a season-ending torn tricep and guard Brandon Fusco, signed as a free agent in the off-season, broke his ankle and was placed on IR. That leaves Wes Schweitzer and Ben Garland starting at guard.
There aren’t many options. The backups include Zane Beadles and Ty Sambrailo and rookie Matt Gono, who have all worked primarily at tackle
“We definitely moved (Beadles) around already in practice where he's played a good bit of time at guard and tackle,” Quinn said. “So he's actually played some at center, too, but over the last few weeks he's been here we have definitely worked him both at guard and tackle.
“So although Ty (Sambrailo) been the swing tackle, over the last couple week, we have moved Zane both at guard and tackle as well. So, both the guys have had experience inside at guard and outside at tackle so they definitely give us some flexibility if we decide to share some reps amongst that offensive line.”
Beadles, in his seventh season out of Utah, was acquired as a free agent early in the season. He has played in four games.
Sambrailo, a fourth-player player out of Colorado State, played 15 games and made two starts for the Falcons in 2017. He has appeared in 11 games this season.
Gono, a rookie free agent from Wesley, has not played in a game.
- LB Deion Jones: The club decided that Jones was not ready for game action against the Saints. He has been on the roster, but remained inactive, for the last two games. He has been working out with the team and Quinn said he was “hopeful” of Jones’ return this week.
- QB Matt Ryan still threw for 377 yards against the Saints, but was intercepted once and lost a fumble. Ryan was sacked six times, matching the season high against the Steelers. He was also the team’s rushing leader for the first time in his career.
- RB Devonta Freeman could return by the end of the season. He is back in Atlanta and Quinn said he would have a better assessment on the Pro Bowl tailback later in the week. It may be unlikely that the team would push him to return now that the playoffs hopes are all but finished.
- DB Desmond Trufant played through a bothersome thigh last week against the Saints and did not produce one of his more memorable games. Quinn said, “I’m more than pleased with the way he’s responded over the last few weeks.”