HOUSTON – The Thursday evening pool report from Falcons practice was more a silent alarm, a subtle signal that something was amiss. But, hey, I am a professional alarmist.
Pool reporter Peter King, whose football opinions are pretty much taken as gospel, wrote that center Alex Mack struggled in the team’s final full-speed practice for the Super Bowl. That’s the same Alex Mack whose arrival this season solidified the offensive line and whose ability to adroitly handle the line calls freed Matt Ryan’s brain for other, more productive, pursuits.
Falcons coach Dan Quinn told King that he was concerned about the lower leg injury Mack sustained in the NFC Championship game (one which he played through).
“I’m concerned. I’m not panicked,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said.
OK, that’s our job. We’ll panic.
This is the Super Bowl. Panic comes easy.
One of the foundational aspects of this season has been the sturdiness of the line, with all five starters going the distance. That’s practically unheard of in what, you may have come to understand, is a rather violent profession.
And Mack’s presence on that line has been – not to overstate – pretty much all-important.
Unquestionably he’ll play. He spent seven long years in Cleveland, you think he’s going to miss a chance to play in a game that actually matters?
“I just know his toughness and strength is so great,” Quinn said Thursday. “The good thing is I know he’s feeling better than he did in the NFC Championship.”
No one could possibly question Mack’s toughness (again, we repeat, he survived seven years in Cleveland). But other very real questions will follow him into Sunday’s game.
Sure, he plays, but at what percent of effectiveness? And where is point in which will can’t overcome a physical liability?
And for how long can he play? That’s a volatile situation down there at the end of his leg, with potential re-injury written on every play.
If that sounds panicky, I apologize. Blame it on the setting.