Even teams that are 8-0 aren’t immune to injuries and other issues, and the Atlanta Falcons are no exception. An area where the NFL leading Falcons have shown some weakness this season may have just gotten a little weaker.
Today the team announced that offensive guard Garrett Reynolds has been placed on the season-ending injured reserve, and guard Phillipkeith Manley (Yes, his first name is just one word), has been moved from the practice squad to the active roster.
Reynolds, 6-7, 310 pounds, was originally selected by Atlanta in the fifth round of the 2009 NFL Draft. In his four seasons with the Falcons, Reynolds has played in 28 games with 14 starts including six games this season.
Manley, 6-5, 309 pounds, was signed out of Toledo by the Falcons as a undrafted free agent this season. He was waived on September 8, and later re-signed to the Falcons practice squad. In 2011, Manley was a big part of the Toledo offensive line that helped the team rush for 2,777 yards, including RB Adonis Thomas, who ran for 1,071 yards.
Even with all their success this season, the Falcons have struggled to run the ball effectively in most games. Their 98.5 rushing yards per game is good for 25th in the league, with some stiffer defensive competition on the way in the second half of the season. Some of this is attributed to first year offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter‘s approach, which utilizes a standard running game much less than Atlanta had done in the past.
But the lack of quality and depth at the offensive line can also be to blame. Not only has the run game suffered this season, but against defenses with better than average pass rushes–such as the Carolina Panthers and Dallas Cowboys–quarterback Matt Ryan has found himself ducking for cover far too often.
Perhaps a changing of the guard (pardon the pun) is the catalyst that’s needed to get this unit functioning at peak performance, but one would have to think if Manley were the answer to the puzzle, he would have already been starting on the active roster.