Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith announced Monday that cornerback Brent Grimes will miss the remainder of the season after suffering an Achilles injury Sunday in Kansas City. Grimes has been a vital part of the Falcons’ defense over the last few seasons.
“Obviously, it hurts our depth any time you lose a player of that caliber,” said Smith. “Brent’s made a number of plays. Since we’ve been here, he’s been a cornerstone at the position, both left and right [cornerback].”
The injury is a blow to the Falcons defense that’s coming off of an impressive second-half performance at Arrowhead Stadium Sunday. Atlanta now has to find a way to replace Grimes, even if its by committee with Dominque Franks and Christopher Owens.
“It’s the next man up mentality,” said Smith. “That’s the way you have to approach it. There are a number of guys who have playing time on our roster right now. It’s something that as a coaching staff we’ll put together what we feel is the best plan in terms of how we will configure out nickel package. That’s the biggest thing we’ll have to do.”
With Grimes gone, Asante Samuel and Dunta Robinson will be the starters and be on the field in Atlanta’s base defensive package. When the Falcons move into their nickel package–something they were in for all but 11 plays on defense Sunday–Franks, Owens or even Robert McClain will have be on the field.
“How we configure this is something we’ll discuss over the next several days,” said Smith. “We’ve got lots of flexibility in terms of our secondary. Injuries are a part of this game, unfortunately. We felt like we were adding a corner [in Samuel] that gave us three No. 1 corners. We’ve had an injury and we’ll have to adjust. We will adjust.”
Atlanta has an extra day to “adjust” since the Falcons are playing on Monday Night Football next week against the Broncos. But with quarterbacks like Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, Cam Newton and Robert Griffin III next on the schedule, something has to be figured out quickly.