Falcons QB Marcus Mariota to undergo knee surgery after abrupt departure from team
Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith said Wednesday that Marcus Mariota will be placed on injured reserve and undergo knee surgery next week.
The veteran quarterback recently learned that he will be sitting on the bench and rookie third-round pick Desmond Ridder will take over.
Shortly after being informed that he was being relieved of his starting duties, Mariota strangely decided to walk away from the team.
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The knee surgery means Mariota won’t be available for the Falcons’ final four games of the regular season. The team opted to sign quarterback Logan Woodside this week to serve as a backup.
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The Falcons won’t know how long Mariota’s recovery will take until he has surgery, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Mariota was away from the team facility on December 5 because his wife gave birth to their first child, a day after the team’s Week 13 loss to the Steelers.
Smith claimed Mariota was suffering from some sort of “chronic knee” injury, but the quarterback was never listed on the team’s injury report this season. The coach refused to shed light on when the team learned of Mariota’s injury.
Smith said the knee injury was not a factor in the decision to move Ridder to the starting role on Mariota.
“Things happen. These are the things that happen in professional football,” Smith said. “A guy has a problem, go see a doctor. That’s what happens.”
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Smith also wasn’t interested in whether Mariota’s presence on the sidelines down the stretch would have benefited the rest of the team.
Falcons quarterbacks coach Charles London also deflected reporters’ questions about Mariota’s status, saying, “We wish Marcus the best.”
Ridder said Mariota told him he was leaving to take care of his knee problem.
“He was here one of the days we were here,” Ridder said. “He just said good luck to me, that he’ll be there for me if I need anything and he’ll never be afraid to reach out.”
The former Oregon star is in the first season of a two-year, $18.75 million contract with Atlanta. He has completed 184 of 300 passes for 2,219 yards, 15 touchdowns and 9 interceptions this year.
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Atlanta has lost four of its last five games with Mariota under center.