ATLANTA -- The Falcons had already announced on Friday that Mykal Walker would not play on Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers. Walker sustained a groin injury against the Buccaneers last Sunday and did not participate in practice this week.
In his absence, Troy Andersen should see a significant uptick in playing time. Though he's seen quite a bit of action through the first five games of his rookie year, Sunday's game against the Niners will see him on the field even more, as the Falcons will look to replace their defensive signal caller in Walker.
Two more defensive players were deemed inactive on Sunday along with Walker: OLB Ade Ogundeji and S Erik Harris. Ogundeji was listed as questionable on Friday after tweaking his shoulder against the Bucs a week ago. Though he practiced throughout the week, he was listed as limited on every Falcons injury report. DeAngelo Malone should see extended playing time in reserve, while Arnold Ebiketie should get his first start in Ogundeji's absence.
Harris' inactives status comes as a slight surprise as Harris has been an important rotational piece for the Falcons in recent weeks. This move is likely due to the Falcons activating fellow defensive back Isaiah Oliver off injured reserve on Saturday.
Oliver was placed on IR at the beginning of the season as he worked back to 100 percent from a season-ending knee injury last year. Oliver returned to practice prior to the Falcons trip to Tampa last week, but was not activated before the game. He saw his role in practice extend in preparation this week, getting significant reps with the first team defense during the open periods of practice. Oliver was the Falcons primary nickel to start the season last year.
Defensive coordinator Dean Pees said towards the end of the season that had Oliver been healthy he would have still been the Falcons nickel all the way through the season. In his absence, the Falcons took on an all-hands-on-deck approach to replacing him at nickel. That included Harris seeing time at the position last year, and through the first five games of the 2022 season, too. Oliver's return and activation could be the reason Harris is inactive against the 49ers.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Falcons will see the return of Kyle Pitts. Pitts missed the Tampa Bay game last week with a hamstring injury.
Though, Pitts was limited throughout practice this week, he said on Wednesday during open locker room that he felt like he would be good to go this Sunday. The Falcons listed Pitts as questionable on Friday, but he will be back on the field when things kick off in Atlanta. Inactive instead is fellow tight end Anthony Firkser after the Falcons elevated MyCole Pruitt from the practice squad on Saturday.
Here's the full list of Falcons inactives:
ILB Mykal Walker
S Erik Harris
OL Chuma Edoga
WR Jared Bernhardt
TE Anthony Firkser
OLB Ade Ogundeji