Normally, an injury to a fourth-string player isn't going to hurt a team very much. But that is not true for the Atlanta Falcons who just lost their fourth-string running back to a torn ACL, likely ending his season.
Avery Williams means more to the Falcons than any fourth-string RB. Not only was he improving after switching from cornerback to running back, but he was the best punt return man in the NFL while also giving the Falcons another good kick returner for all those times when teams would kick away from Cordarrelle Patterson.
Avery Williams' injury impacts the Atlanta Falcons more than you think
The Atlanta Falcons drafted Avery Williams a couple of years ago for his special teams' prowess. He had a good first season but he exploded in his second year leading the NFL in yards per punt return. But that isn't the end of his value on the team.
Williams was able to have some quality snaps in his first year as a running back this past season. He provided Arthur Smith with another receiving threat out of the backfield and an elusive change-of-pace runner.
And then there were all the times that the Falcons would send Cordarrelle Patterson out as the kick returner. Opponents did not want the ball in CP's hands so they would kick it short. The Falcons eventually wised up to the plan and placed Avery where they were kicking it, putting their opponents in a no-win situation.
Now, the Falcons don't have that. Barring a breakout from another return man, teams are not going to hesitate to kick the ball wherever Patterson is not.
The only good news is that Atlanta has a running back room that has a ton of skill and they were never going to rely on Williams' skillset.
Nevertheless, it is a shame that Williams is likely done for the season. He was primed to have more opportunities to return punts with a much-improved defense. The Falcons certainly just lost a few yards per punt return, at least, with this injury.