Sports

Falcons lose top edge rusher Fowler (knee) to IR

ATLANTA — The Atlanta Falcons placed outside linebacker Dante Fowler Jr. on injured reserve Friday after he suffered a knee injury in a Week 5 win over the New York Jets.

Fowler, who has turned into Atlanta’s best edge rusher and has two sacks and two forced fumbles on the season, did not practice all week.

“It’s not necessarily next man up. That’s the old conventional wisdom,” Falcons coach Arthur Smith said Friday. “Like, you know, you go into these things and maybe some people do it like that, but I always kind of, ‘Oh, you got this guy out, you got your depth chart out.’ That’s the beauty of coaching and how to problem solve.

“If you want to go one-for-one, OK, good for you, but we got a lot of ways to fill holes. It’s next man up in theory, but there’s a lot of different ways you can plan things and attack, so that’s kind of how we look at it.”

The Falcons could look at a plethora of options to replace Fowler, likely starting with a combination of rookie Adetokunbo Ogundeji and veterans Jacob Tuioti-Mariner and Brandon Copeland. Steven Means, who has already been playing a large majority of snaps at outside linebacker, could see even more work.

Fowler and Tuioti-Mariner are tied for the team lead in sacks with two each.

Fowler, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars, will miss at least three games. The earliest he could return is Week 10 against the Dallas Cowboys.

Atlanta listed cornerback/returner Avery Williams as doubtful to play Sunday against the Miami Dolphins. Additionally, right tackle Kaleb McGary remains on the reserve/COVID-19 list. If McGary can’t play, Jason Spriggs would likely start at right tackle against the Dolphins.

The Falcons are set to get back Russell Gage — the first time the team’s No. 2 wide receiver will be available since Week 2 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers because of an ankle injury.

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