Kaleb McGary enters his third season with the Atlanta Falcons hoping to prove he's the long-term answer at right tackle. For now, he needs to worry about being healthy for Week 1 against Philadelphia.
McGary has missed all five practices since the start of Falcons training camp. The reason? He remains on the physically-unable-to-perform list with an injury the team has yet to reveal and/or expound upon.
Falcons coach Arthur Smith is encouraged McGary will be back in time for the start of the new season, but he also isn't setting an actual return date.
“He’s another guy that’s doing everything that we’re asking him to do,” Smith said Tuesday of McGary. “I don’t anticipate being much longer, but again, it’s hard to give a firm timetable because we have to do what’s in the best interest of the player and the team.”
With McGary and fellow offensive tackle Matt Gono sidelined, third-round selection Jalen Mayfield has been working with the first team line. The former Michigan tackle has experience playing both sides of the line during his time in Ann Arbor.
Multiple scouts believe that Mayfield's position for the foreseeable future is better suited inside. For now, what else do the Falcons have to lose giving him a shot?
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Fellow rookie Drew Dalman has also work both right tackle and left guard with veteran Josh Andrews during first- and second-team reps.
“These young offensive linemen, they are all in there fighting it out,” Smith said. “It was their first day in pads. They are only a couple practices (into) the NFL, but I’m really pleased with that rookie class and the way that they are working right now.”
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Since being drafted out of Washington in 2019, McGary has played in 30 games, starting 29. Last season, he was credited with allowing four sacks and five pressures, per Pro Football Focus.
According to reports, Mayfield has looked the part at right tackle. He's had his good moments and his not-so-stellar plays, but that's the life of a rookie. Experience, plus repetition, could help fix that before the season begins.
Would the job be Mayfield's to lose when McGary returns? Will he shift inside after working all preseason on the edge? That is up in the air, but it's a good problem for Smith and the Falcons' offense to have entering another week of camp.
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