Falcons’ Kyle Pitts, Ta’Quon Graham to have surgical ‘procedures’

FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts and defensive end Ta’Quon Graham, who suffered MCL injuries in the 27-24 win over the Bears on Sunday, will have surgical “procedures,” coach Arthur Smith said Wednesday.

Both players will miss at least four weeks after they were placed on injured reserve.

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“Obviously, both of those guys....won’t expect them back in the short term,” Smith said. “There are still some things that we have to figure out.”

Neither player returned to the game, but the Falcons are hopeful that they can return this season. The Falcons (5-6) are a half-game out of first place in the NFC South with six games to play. They trail the Buccaneers, who are 5-5.

The Falcons are on the fringes of the playoff race and are in ninth place for seven spots.

“There is still just some unknowns as they continue to get medical advice,” Smith said. “Both of those guys will have procedures, and we really won’t know until after those procedures what the timeline truly is.”

Tight ends Parker Hesse and MyCole Pruitt will take over most of Pitts’ snaps. Abdullah Anderson took the bulk of Graham’s work against the Bears. Matt Dickerson was listed with the first-team defense in the team’s most recent official depth chart.

“We know they won’t be out there for the next three games,” said Smith, who’s factoring in their bye week after the next two games. “That’s what we know right now when you put people on IR. We’ve got five spots left to return. We’ll see how the season plays out.”

The Falcons also will use different personnel groupings to replace Pitts on offense.

“It’s our job as coaches to adapt and evolve,” Smith said. “Our team is dealing with something. We got the right guys out there and guys that can play multiple roles for us and have done it, with Pruitt, Hesse, (Anthony) Firkser and Feleipe (Franks) also and (fullback) Keith Smith.”

None of those options will replace Pitts’ pass-catching ability.

“There are a lot of things we can do to manufacture things in the different personnel groups,” Smith said. “All of our wideouts and we have (running backs Cordarrelle Patterson) and Avery (Williams).”

Franks has missed the past two games with a calf injury.

Pitts has caught 28 of 59 targets (47.5%) for 356 yards and two touchdowns this season. He has three dropped passes, according to Pro Football Reference. Pitts caught 68 passes for 1,026 yards last season as a rookie with Matt Ryan at quarterback and was named to the Pro Bowl.

“We’ve got a lot of options,” Smith said. “... We’ll try to find different solutions.”

After the surgeries, the Falcons will have more decisions to make.

“You do what’s in the best interest of the player’s health, first and foremost,” Smith said.

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Atlanta Falcons 2022 schedule

Sept. 11: Saints 27, Falcons 26

Sept. 18: Rams 31, Falcons 27

Sept. 25 Falcons 27, Seahawks 23

Oct. 2 Falcons 23, Browns 20

Oct. 9 Buccaneers 21, Falcons 15

Oct. 16 Falcons 28, 49ers 14

Oct. 23 Bengals 35, Falcons 17

Oct. 30 Falcons 37, Panthers 34 OT

Nov. 6 Chargers 20, Falcons 17

Nov. 10 Panthers 25, Falcons 15

Nov. 20 Falcons 27, Bears 24

Nov. 27 at Washington, 1 p.m.

Dec. 4 vs. Pittsburgh, 1 p.m.

BYE WEEK

Dec. 18 at New Orleans, TBD

Dec. 24 at Baltimore, 1 p.m.

Jan. 1 vs. Arizona, 1 p.m.

Jan. 8 vs. Tampa Bay, TBD