MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Falcons quarterback AJ McCarron will have an MRI on Sunday to determine the extent of damage to his injured right knee.
The team will wait for that imaging before making declarations about his prognosis, but there's clearly cause for grave concern. McCarron got hurt in the second quarter of Saturday's 37-17 loss to the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium and did not return to the game.
It's uncertain at this time whether he got hurt on a seven-yard run where he chose to fight for the first down over sliding short of the sticks, or whether it came in a non-contact situation on the following play, or a combination of the two.
That snap was McCarron's last. He was clearly hobbled trying to reach the sideline and eventually went down on the field to wait for trainers. He was under the blue sideline medical tent for a stretch, then emerged and walked gingerly to the locker room for further evaluation.
Feleipe Franks came in and played the rest of the game.
Falcons head coach Arthur Smith said McCarron was "heartbroken," he sympathizes with the veteran's situation.
"I really feel for AJ McCarron," Smith said. "Any time something like that happens, when it's non-contact, it's tough because you know how much work these guys put into it. I feel for him. We'll get the MRI to confirm, but he's heartbroken. He had bounced back and was out there fighting for his team, trying to get extra yards. I understand injuries are part of the game but there's still a human element. I feel for him."
No matter what the MRI shows, the Falcons will probably need to sign a quarterback. Franks and starter Matt Ryan are the only healthy signal callers on the roster in the immediate future, even if McCarron is set to miss a smaller amount of time.
If his injury is season-ending – there's rational fear that could be the case – the Falcons will need to get one to compete with Franks down the stretch as Ryan's possible backup.
"You're always going to look to improve the team," Smith said. "We're going to have to assess and see what the injury is. Until we get an MRI – we're always looking to improve the roster. If it is long-term, we could continue to look."
Get an inside look at the matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and Miami Dolphins in the second preseason game of 2021.