Falcons right guard Chris Lindstrom, who was slated to be the centerpiece of the team’s revamped offensive line, suffered a broken foot against the Vikings and will be placed on injured reserve and will be eligible to return.
“It will require surgery,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said on Monday. “He’ll go to IR and we’ll move Jamon Brown back to right guard.”
Lindstrom broke the fifth metatarsal, the long bone on the outside of the foot that connects to the little toe.
Lindstrom, who was selected 14th overall in the NFL draft out of Boston College, left in the third quarter of the 28-12 season-opening loss to the Vikings on Sunday.
“I was really proud of where Chris took his game to in a short time,” Quinn said. “For us, that was definitely a significant injury and significant loss in terms of his attitude, quickness and physicality. It all shows up.”
The Falcons re-signed offensive lineman John Wetzel to fill out the 53-man roster. Wetzel , a 6-foot-7 and 328-pound tackle, was with the Falcons in training camp before being released on the final cut down. Wetzel has played in 40 NFL games and made 24 starts. He played some guard with Arizona back in 2016.
Lindstrom opened training camp with the first-team offense and started the regular-season opener against the Vikings at right guard. He played 48 of the 78 (62 percent) offensive snaps against the Vikings.
“It’s unfortunate for Chris,” offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said. “He was off to a good start for a rookie. I was really happy with the way he was playing.”
Wes Schweitzer replaced Lindstrom in the game and played 30 snaps. Brown, who lost the starting left guard battle with James Carpenter, was inactive for the Vikings’ game.
Brown was signed to a three-year, $18.2 million contract on March 14th in free agency. He received a $5.5 million signing bonus and $12.75 million of the deal was guaranteed. Because of the expenditure, it was a stunner that Brown was inactive.
But Quinn said Schweitzer was active because he could back up center Alex Mack.
Brown was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the third round of the 2015 draft. He moved to Los Angeles with the team and played 2016 and 2017 with the Rams before spending 2018 with the Rams and New York Giants. He’s 6-foot-4 and 340 pounds and has played in 68 NFL games and made six starts.
“Most definitely, the one thing you see a lot in this game and this business, is that when one man goes down, the next man is up,” Brown said. “I hate to see Chris go down, but it’s the next man up. If that’s me, then I’m ready.”
Brown believes he can fill Lindstrom’s spot. Lindstrom, if his injury heals, could return for the 10th game of the season at New Orleans on Nov. 10.
“Definitely, every opportunity is a chance to prove your value and your worth and how we can help this organization win football games,” Brown said. “At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about. The finished product. Our productivity. Are we winning? I’m excited to have this opportunity to step in and do what they brought me here for.”
Brown spent most of his time in the exhibition season at left guard. The Falcons gave nearly all of the right guard repetitions to Lindstrom.
Brown will slide in next to Mack and right tackles Kaleb McGary and Ty Sambrailo, who rotated against Minnesota. McGary played 45 offensive snaps and Sambrailo played 35 offensive snaps.
“I think we are in a good spot,” Brown said when asked about continuity along the line. “Again, it’s still early. There are still a lot of things that we have to put in place. I think we are in a good spot. ... One thing we can’t do is allow one week to make us panic. We have to learn from it. Grow from it and move forward.”
The Falcons offensive line did not perform well against the Vikings. Quarterback Matt Ryan was sacked four times and hit seven times.
“This isn’t the way we wanted to start the season,” Mack said. “So, everyone is pretty down. Everyone is pretty (upset). We’ve got a long season ahead of us. There’s some really good stuff on film and there’s some bad stuff. Get rid of the bad stuff. Keep the good stuff and move on to next week.”
Lindstrom was coming along nicely.
“He did a really good job in stepping up and playing,” Mack said. “The film he had on this game was really good and he shows a lot of promise.”
Now, the offensive line must adjust.
“We’ve done some rotating at guard,” Mack said. “There will be a couple issues learning new fits, but we’ve done a lot of that in the (exhibition) season and everything else.”
Mack has been around long enough and doesn’t buy all of that “next man up” speak. He knows the line will hurt and has to adjust.
“You don’t want it,” Mack said of injuries. “You’re going to be the most successful when you have the same guys in there the whole time. You have the best guys and the best guys are healthy, everyone is learning together and getting better over the course of the season.
“So, injuries hurt and when you see them, it’s a matter of recovering from them.”
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