BOSTON (CBS) — The Atlanta Falcons’ injury report ahead of Super Bowl LI is much shorter than that of the New England Patriots, but they have three key players listed on it. Besides wideout Julio Jones (toe, limited participant) and defensive end Dwight Freeney (calf, did not participate), on Thursday the Falcons listed center Alex Mack as a limited participant with a fibula injury.
Falcons head coach Dan Quinn admitted after practice that he is particularly “concerned” about Mack’s injury, but not about his toughness or availability for Sunday, according to a pool report by The MMQB’s Peter King.
“The good thing is I know [Mack’s] feeling better than he did in the NFC Championship Game. But yeah, I’m concerned,” said Quinn. “I’m not panicked, but I’m concerned.”
Mack did not practice last week after injuring his left fibula during the NFC Championship Game against the Green Bay Packers. He was originally thought to suffer an ankle injury. He is expected to play on Sunday night, but could be limited by the fibula.
The center’s presence is crucial to the Falcons’ No. 1-ranked offense. The 2016 second team All-Pro is the team’s best and most important offensive lineman in terms of both pass protection and run blocking. He will get a heavy dose of Alan Branch in the run game and potentially have to deal with the likes of Chris Long or Trey Flowers on the Patriots defensive line.
King reported that Mack worked separately with Falcons backup center Ben Garland on a couple of occasions during Thursday’s practice, working on technique. Garland has also been working “overtime” studying film of the Patriots, but King said that it’s nothing out of the ordinary for the way the Falcons practice.