Atlanta Falcons injury update: Starter to miss playoffs

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 02: Devonta Freeman
ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 02: Devonta Freeman /

Atlanta Falcons injury update: Starter to miss playoffs

Atlanta Falcons guard Andy Levitre has been placed on injured reserve after aggravating his triceps injury in Atlanta’s win over the Carolina Panthers. Levitre returned after missing three games with the same injury but aggravated it after playing only five snaps.

Falcons guard Ben Garland will fill in for Levitre. Garland has been able to get solid playing time in 2017 as Atlanta has been dealing with injuries to their offensive line.

Per Vaughn McClure of, Falcons head coach Dan Quinn is disappointed that Levitre cannot play in the playoffs but his optimism towards Garland playing well is there.

"“We’re bummed for him, but we do appreciate how hard he worked for it,” said Quinn. Usually when I think of Ben, I think of just a guy who’s loaded with grit,. He came here as an opportunity on the practice squad and we said, ‘We’re going to push you and develop you and challenge you.’ And you see that lit him up in a really good way.” – Dan Quinn, Head Coach of the Atlanta Falcons (per"

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Quinn also spoke of the challenge of Garland facing Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald. Quinn knows that facing Donald will be a challenge for Garland.

"“It’s not going to be on his own the whole game,” said Quinn. “Donald plays at a number of different spots. But Aaron’s really having a fantastic year. What makes him unique is he has really good get-off and that’s part of being a good defensive tackle. But the use of his hands is excellent. He’s got leverage. He can use his hands, get up field. So all of us, from a challenge standpoint, he’s a factor in this game for sure.” – Dan Quinn, Head Coach of the Atlanta Falcons (per"

Garland has had some issues in the past few games when it comes to reducing the holding calls, but Levitre being out will get him more valuable experience so that the offense can finally start to get Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan more time in the pocket.

Garland’s first true test will come in the Falcons’ wild card game against the Rams in Los Angeles on Saturday. Will Falcons offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian be able to create a successful game plan utilizing Garland? If Atlanta falls behind early, they may be forced to utilize the passing game more than they had planned. If that be the case, Ryan and the Falcons offense will be reliant upon Garland’s pass protection ability.

Saturday’s game will be a challenge for the Falcons offensive line, but if they can get some quality play out of Garland, Atlanta could very well find success on offense. A key to success however will be limiting offensive penalties. Garland will need to refrain from holding calls and false start penalties. Avoiding such penalties will be equally as important as pass protection and run blocking.

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Garland has a bigger role now for the Falcons and he will be expected to perform in a big way. Will he? Tune in Saturday to find out.