When you lose a player to injury who is your designated franchise player, and who you were counting on to be a big part of your team, it’s bad. When you lose that player in week 1 of the regular season it’s worse. Make no mistake, the loss of Atlanta Falcons cornerback Brent Grimes is a big blow to this team, but it’s not a knockout blow.
Grimes was injured in Sunday’s 40-24 win over the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. He suffered an achilles injury, and will miss the rest of the 2012 season, being placed on injured reserve.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that Atlanta has pretty good depth at the defensive back position, with Asante Samuel and Dunta Robinson still there as starters. The loss of Grimes will cause defensive coordinator Mike Nolan to switch up some of his plans for personnel in the nickel packages, but the Falcons should still feel comfortable with what they have.
“Brent’s made a number of plays. Since he’s been here, he’s been a cornerstone at the corner position, both left and right,” head coach Mike Smith said. “It’s the next-man-up mentality, and that’s how you have to approach it. We’ve got a number of guys that have play time on our roster right now, and it’s something we’ll, as a coaching staff, put together what we feel like is the best plan in terms of how we’ll configure our nickel package.”
The issue now becomes, if something happens to Robinson or Samuel, Atlanta would then be forced into using one or other of the backup defensive backs — Christopher Owens and Dominique Franks — both of whom saw playing time last season, and had marginally good results. Either Owens or Franks is likely to step into the open nickel slot now.
Grimes was tagged as the Falcons franchise player in the off-season, and had originally refused to sign his $10.28 million tender offer, but then abruptly changed his mind when the Falcons traded for Asante Samuel from the Philadelphia Eagles.