The Falcons will be without Vic Beasley for a minimum of one game after the All-Pro defensive end suffered a hamstring strain in Sunday night’s win over the Packers. It’s quite possible, even in a best-case scenario, that he could miss several weeks.
Beasley suffered a hamstring stain, according to head coach Dan Quinn. Even if the injury is a Grade 1 sprain, considered mild, it can take up to three weeks to recover. If Beasley has a Grade 2 sprain, which is a partial tear, it would take from two to eight weeks to recover.
“Vic Beasley will be out this week with a hamstring strain,” Quinn said in describing the extent of the injury on Monday.
The Falcons (2-0) play at the Lions on Sunday.
Quinn originally under-reported Desmond Trufant’s torn pectoral muscle injury last season before he went on to miss the final seven games of the regular season and the team’s Super Bowl run.
Beasley was injured early in the third quarter and did not return in the Falcons’ 34-23 win. On video replay of the game, Beasley is seen grabbing the back of his right leg after the play is over.
“It’s a matter of semantics,” said Dr. Luga Podesta, a sports medicine and regenerative orthopedic specialist at Bluetail Medical Group in Naples, Florida. “The way they grade these injuries is the muscle fibers get injured. They are technically called a strain where a ligament injury is called a sprain.
“Anything that happens to a muscle is a strain. If it’s a very bad strain it could be a complete tear of it. If it’s a minor strain, he could be out a couple of weeks. Typically, we would get guys backs four to five or six weeks out for moderate strains.”
In addition to Beasley’s injury, the Falcons will also be without defensive tackle Courtney Upshaw, who suffered a sprained ankle, and right tackle Ryan Schraeder, who suffered a concussion and is in the league’s protocol program.
It was first reported that Beasley has a tear and could be out for up to a month by Zach Klein of Channel 2 Action News citing “a NFL source.”
Quinn, however, doesn’t believe Beasley will be out that long.
“We certainly wouldn’t put that kind of timeline on him,” Quinn said. “I’m not sure which doctors reported that, but it wasn’t ours. He’s a guy who’s going to work really hard.
“I know he’ll miss this week. Past that, we’ll see how it goes to see if he’s able to make it back in time for the next game (against the Bills on Oct. 1) and then we have a bye. We’ll see where it goes, but he’ll definitely miss next week.”
If Beasley is out a month, he’d be set to return against the Patriots on Oct. 22 in a rematch of Super Bowl LI.
With Beasley out at least a week, the Falcons will turn to rookie defensive end Takkarist McKinley to play left defensive end in the teams nickel defense. De’Vondre Campbell has been playing the strongside linebacker spot in the base defense.
McKinley played 44 of the 76 defensive snaps (58 percent) against the Packers. He played just 14 snaps against the Bears. He had two quarterback hits against the Packers, one when he came free off a stunt with defensive end Adrian Clayborn.
“With Vic (out), we’ll lean on Takk and Brooks (Reed) and Derrick Shelby, who can also play outside,” Quinn said. “We are fortunate that we have some depth at the position this year.”
Reed had two sacks against the Bears, including one late in the game on a fourth down to help secure the 23-17 win.
Shelby, who has a base salary of $4.5 million, is coming back from surgery that shortened his 2016 season. Shelby tore his right Achilles against Seattle on Oct. 16 and later was placed on injured reserve. He has played 56 of 143 of the defensive snaps this season (39 percent).
“Versatility is going to be important,” Quinn said. “Derrick is a guy who can play both outside and inside. (Sunday) night he played more inside. Whenever you lose two guys at the same position in ball games you lean on others.”
McKinley played an assortment of positions in college at UCLA. He played linebacker and end on both sides of the line. The Falcons have used him primarily at right defensive end.
“I would say for probably the last week and half or two weeks he’s played on both sides (in practice),” Quinn said of McKinley. “He’s really equipped to do that. It’s the strength that he plays with and he’s got experience playing both sides (in college). We just haven’t done it here a lot.”
McKinley played some on the left after Beasley left injured.
“There’s no better way (to get experience) than on-the-job training sometimes to go and get right,” Quinn said. “We are definitely planning on him playing both sides.”
Ty Sambrailo replaced Schraeder and played 49 of 58 of the offensive snaps (84 percent) against the Packers. The Falcons acquired him from the Broncos for a fifth-round pick on Sept. 1.
“Great job by Sambrailo coming in,” quarterback Matt Ryan said. “Obviously, he’s only been here a couple of weeks. We asked him to go in and really play the duration of the game for us. … I thought he did an excellent job.”