Atlanta Falcons QB and reigning NFL MVP Matt Ryan is clearly the most important player on the Falcons; they cannot afford to lose him in Super Bowl LI. But if you had to write down the second and third most important Falcons, then C Alex Mack and WR Julio Jones would come to mind in some order.
Both Mack and Jones are going to play through major injuries that could require offseason surgery. This is a big advantage for the New England Patriots.
Mack is playing through a fracture in his left fibula (leg), which ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports would sideline a normal player for six-to-eight weeks at any other point in the year. This is the same leg that Mack injured while with the Cleveland Browns in 2014. The Falcons are concerned about whether Mack will be able to hold his ground in the run game, especially against 350-pound DT Alan Branch and the Patriots vaunted run defense.
Jones has torn ligaments in his foot associated with turf toe, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, and is also playing through an ankle sprain. Jones will have his foot evaluated after the Super Bowl to determine whether or not he requires surgery to repair the injury.
The cornerstones of the Falcons rushing and passing attacks are playing through serious injuries in Super Bowl LI. The Patriots had better be ready to take advantage of the match-ups.