'Heartbroken': Falcons Lose QB: Now What?

The Atlanta Falcons could be in line looking for a new quarterback to back up Matt Ryan

The Atlanta Falcons needed to find a backup quarterback following the retirement of Matt Schaub. They still could be entering Week 3 of the NFL preseason. 

A.J. McCarron, the seven-year veteran, likely will miss an extended period of time after leaving Saturday's game against the Miami Dolphins with a knee injury. Falcons head coach Arthur Smith used the word "heartbroken'' as he told reporters postgame that the QB would be undergoing further testing. 

“Yeah, I really feel for AJ McCarron,” Smith said. “Any time that something like that happens ... It’s tough when you know what these guys put into it. I feel for AJ. We’ll obviously get the MRI to confirm He’s heartbroken."

READ MORE: Dolphins 37, Falcons 17: Injury Update, Recap & Highlights

McCarron, who'll turn 31 next month, tried to break loose for gain on the ground before being tackled by Dolphins linebacker Sam Equavoen. He stayed in for another play before walking over to the sideline.  

He completed 3 of 6 passes for 36 yards before the injury. Rookie QB Feleipe Franks took over at quarterback for the Falcons on the way to a 37-17 loss. 

“He was out there fighting for his team, trying to get the extra yards," Smith said. "I understand that injuries are a part of the game, but there is still a human element. So, I feel for AJ.”

Neither QB has completely separated themselves in the race for QB2 during the last two weeks. McCarron went 5 of 12 passing for 36 yards against the Tennessee Titans. Franks added 76 yards rushing, but went  2 of 9 passing for 16 yards. 

On Saturday, Franks went 4 of 9 for 46 yards, with no touchdowns and one interception while also rushing for 32 yards on three carries. He was also sacked four times.

Smith said that Franks' ability to extend plays is an asset, but that's not enough to be the sure-fire option behind Matt Ryan. 

READ MORE: Falcons Injury Update: McCarron Out, Rookie QB In

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"I thought he threw the ball a little bit better tonight at times," Smith said. "Still got to push him where he's had a lot of growth and will continue to grow."

The question now turns to what Atlanta will do at QB following McCarron's injury. Smith said the best way for quarterbacks to learn is with live reps. Franks continues to play, but there's still work to be done. 

Naturally, the easiest option would be for Franks to remain on the practice squad while McCarron would be on the active roster. If the former Alabama star is expected to miss time, former first-round pick Blake Bortles could be an option. 

Another option? Josh Rosen. 

Entering his fourth season, the 2018 No. 10 pick is looking for his fifth team. After a rocky rookie season with the Arizona Cardinals, Rosen was traded to the Miami Dolphins and split reps with Ryan Fitzpatrick. 

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Last season, he split time with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and San Francisco 49ers before being released earlier this month. For his career, Rosen has thrown for 2,845 yards and 12 touchdowns against 19 interceptions. 

"You're always going to look to improve the team," Smith said. "So we have to assess what the injury is. Until we get an MRI, you've seen things happen before and it's quick. But any time, we're always looking to improve the roster." 

The Falcons will end their preseason next Sunday against the Cleveland Browns at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. 

CONTINUE READING: Ridley, Pitts Continue To Shine Against Dolphins