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Falcons make roster moves as starters' injuries become clear after evaluations

Atlanta moves Kyle Pitts and Ta'Quon Graham to injured reserve. 

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Arthur Smith said on Monday afternoon that he and general manager Terry Fontenot would wait until they received final confirmation from doctors about Kyle Pitts' and Ta'Quon Graham's injures in order to make a decision on whether or not they'd send both players to injured reserve. Those final decisions came mere hours after Smith's press conference, with the Falcons announcing that Pitts and Graham would be placed on IR.

Both Pitts and Graham suffered knee injuries during the Falcons win against the Bears on Sunday night. Graham was carted off the field during the second quarter. Pitts took a shot to the lower body in the Falcons first offensive drive of the second half. Though he popped up and ran to the sideline on his own, he did not return to the field thereafter.

Initial reports from NFL Network's Ian Rapoport stated that Pitts had suffered an MCL sprain and was awaiting further imagery. As the day went on, though, those reports seemed less hopeful.

Rapoport followed his originally report with another that said Pitts had actually torn his MCL and would be out "indefinitely" following a potential surgery.

Though Smith did not confirm these reports at the time of his official press conference on Monday, he did say the Falcons expected Pitts and Graham to be out "in the short-term." That early prognosis has likely evolved, though, as the Falcons send Pitts and Graham to injured reserve.

As a reminder, players placed on IR must miss at minimum four games.

Atlanta Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts #8 runs after a catch during the first quarter against the Chicago Bears at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia on Sunday, November 20, 2022. (Photo by Kathryn Skeean/Atlanta Falcons)

With this news came other moves, too, with the Falcons also announcing they have signed tight end John Raine to the practice squad, claimed defensive lineman Jaleel Johnson off waivers and placed offensive lineman Justin Shaffer on practice squad IR.

With Pitts on injured reserve, Raine returns to the Falcons as a hopeful piece of depth in the tight end room. Smith said on Monday the Falcons will continue to evaluate Feleipe Franks and Anthony Firkser (who were both inactive on Sunday) to see if they could be active sooner rather than later to help fill out the position. In the meantime, MyCole Pruitt and Parker Hesse will be the Falcons go-to's at tight end as Pitts recovers.

With Graham heading to IR as well, the Falcons bring back Johnson. Johnson was signed to the Falcons practice squad in early October, but was picked up by one of his old teams - the Texans - at the end of the same month. Houston signed Johnson to their 53-man roster, but released him on Saturday.

We take a monochrome look at the win over the Chicago Bears on November 20, 2022.


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