FLOWERY BRANCH -- Falcons coach Arthur Smith didn’t believe the game was too big for rookie lineman Jalen Mayfield, but he’s considering all of his options at left guard.
“I wouldn’t say that it got too big for him, he’s certainly not going to be pleased with his performance,” Smith said on Monday. “He knows what the issues are. He’s a tough-minded guy.”
Mayfield was drafted in the third round out of Michigan, where he played right tackle. Matt Gono, the leading offseason candidate to start at left guard, suffered an injury and was placed on the physically unable to perform list. He was seen wearing a neck brace. Josh Andrews, who was working with the first team, broke his hand and was placed on injured reserve on Sept. 1.
“It will be a little bit before we get there on Matt,” Smith said.
Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot told the team’s website that some players they were scouting didn’t get cut at the move down to 53-man rosters around the league. Now, the Falcons are looking for veterans on practice squads around the league and could bring in players for tryouts.
The Falcons, under first-year NFL line coach Dwayne Ledford, have said they will play the best five linemen. Fellow rookie Drew Dalman, who was a center at Stanford, will get some consideration this week. He played against the Eagles when Mayfield left the game with an unannounced injury.
“(The) situation, is what it is,” Smith said. “Josh got hurt. Then again we’ll evaluate it this week (to see) whether if we play Drew in there or we have somebody else out there.”
The Falcons had planned to bring Mayfield and Dalman along slowly, but Mayfield got thrown into his first NFL game. He had two false start penalties and gave up at least one of the three sacks.
“I have to do everything better,” Mayfield said after the game Sunday. “There’s not one thing in my game that’s fully complete. I have to improve on everything that I do.”
The Falcons wanted to take more time with Mayfield as he makes the conversion to guard.
“It’s when you’re bringing along a rookie linemen in the interior, it wasn’t the plan to play him early,” Smith said. “We got him reps in the (exhibition) season. There are things he’s got to work on. I got all the faith the world that he’ll be just fine eventually.”
Smith said the team will look to upgrade at all positions throughout the season.
After Andrews was injured, they claimed Colby Gossett (North Forsyth High and Appalachian State) off waivers from the Browns. He’s played in five NFL games and made four starts.
“Colby we’ll see,” Smith said. “We’ll see what practice looks like this week. All options are on the table. The thing is, you have to fix it. You have to fix your problems. You’re in the solution business. You fix it. You give a guy an opportunity and if they can’t fix it. Then we have to do something.”
The Eagles were led by defensive tackles Fletcher Cox, a six-time Pro Bowler, and Javon Hargrove and the team’s next opponent - Tampa Bay - has defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Vita Vea on its front wall.
“We’re going to have challenges every week,” Smith said.
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