The New England Patriots are heading to the Super Bowl relatively healthy. Other than Rob Gronkowski, who the team was forced to place on injured reserve after week 12, New England seems to have all its key players available as it starts preparing for the upcoming game.
The same cannot be said about the Patriots’ opponent though, as the Atlanta Falcons will likely have to practice without starting center Alex Mack this week (according to Ian Rapoport):
#Falcons C Alex Mack is dealing with a swollen, painful sprained ankle, source said. He returned Sunday, but unlikely to practice this week
Rapoport also notes that Mack is expected to play next Sunday:
With a chance to win a Super Bowl in his 1st playoffs, #Falcons C Alex Mack (ankle) is expected to play in SBLI. But will try to rest it.
Mack injured his ankle during the NFC Championship Game against the Green Bay Packers but returned after missing only one play. The 31-year old has been durable this year, starting all 18 of the Falcons’ games. He has been voted to his fourth Pro Bowl due to his stellar play.
Defensive tackles Alan Branch and Malcom Brown will likely see a lot of Mack on early downs, with Trey Flowers kicking inside on passing situations. It remains to be seen if the injury or the missed practice time will have an impact on those very different matchups.