FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (WNN) — The Atlanta Falcons will have to reconfigure their secondary this week, losing to nickel back Isaiah Oliver with a season-ending knee injury.
Furthermore, starting Eric Harris’ safety for Sunday’s game against the New York Jets in London is uncertain due to a calf injury that left him out of last week’s 34-30 loss. to Washington.
Falcons put Oliver on injured reserve on Tuesday. On Wednesday, coach Arthur Smith confirmed Oliver would miss the rest of the season. He also said that injured players like Harris and defensive tackle Marlon Davidson (ankle) cannot travel to London.
“If given a chance, he’ll play, we’ll take him with us,” Smith said.
Injuries in the secondary can force a dramatic reshuffle of the depth chart. There may be more significant roles for rookie Avery Williams, who played behind Oliver against Washington, and Richie Grant.
“Certainly, all options are on the table,” said Smith, adding that cornerback Kendall Sheffield has experience in the nickel role.
Smith said Williams “has done a good job,” but there is room for improvement.
“Certainly, like all of us, there are play-calls that I want back,” Smith said. “There are some plays I am sure he wants back. He is a rookie. He is very smart, and he has a lot of smart soccer instincts.”
Sheffield (unknown) and left guard Josh Andrews (arm) could come out of injured reserve this week. Smith said the two would travel to London.
Smith said Oliver’s injury was particularly painful as the cornerback found a home in the role of Nickel.
“I can’t say enough good things about him as a supporter than as a teammate,” Smith said. “He’s one of those guys I really enjoyed. He really bought in and had a great year. That’s bad luck.”
Oliver made nine tackles, a coercive fumble and a fumble recovery to go through four games before hurting his knee in the first half.
Washington quarterback Taylor Heinicke passed for 290 yards and three touchdowns, including two in the final 3:52, to defeat the Falcons (1-3). Atlanta led 30–22 at the start of the final period.
Another player who can advance to secondary is second year safety Jaylin Hawkins. The Falcons added safety Sean Williams to the practice squad on Tuesday.
“We can raise multiple people and play different roles,” Smith said. “We feel good about the people we’ve met here.”
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