Falcons defensive end/linebacker Kroy Biermann and fullback Bradie Ewing suffered season-ending injuries against the Rams on Sunday and were placed on injured reserve on Monday.
Biermann, who left the game via a cart, tore the Achilles tendon in his right foot. It was announced during the game he had sustained an ankle injury.
Ewing suffered a separated shoulder during the game’s first drive.
“They will not be on the (short-term injury reserve list), where you can come back,” coach Mike Smith said.
Biermann leaves a considerable hole. In 82 career games, he has 193 tackles with 16 1/2 sacks and a pair of interception returns for touchdowns.
With Biermann out against the Rams, defensive ends Jonathan Massaquoi and Malliciah Goodman saw more action. Massaquoi played 45 of 77 (58 percent) defensive snaps and Goodman played 25 (32 percent).
“Jonathan snaps were up significantly,” Smith said. “Those guys are going to get an opportunity to step in and help us win some football games. I believe that they will. As I say many times, one man’s misfortune is another man’s opportunity. We’ve got some guys that we expect are going to step up and make some plays for us.”
Massaquoi, a fifth-round pick out of Troy from Central Gwinnett High, is in his second season with the Falcons but played sparingly as a rookie. Goodman, a rookie, was drafted out of Clemson in the fourth-round.
“Malliciah is a big and long guy,” Smith said of the 6-foot-4, 276-pound end. “He can get into passing lanes. Jonathan Massaquoi has a very similar skill set in terms of height, weight (6-2, 264) and speed that Kroy has. We’ve got some other guys that have played linebacker for us in the preseason that will step into that role as well.”
Stansly Maponga, a rookie fifth-round pick from Texas Christian, has also practiced in Biermann’s hybrid role. He’s recovering from ankle surgery and has been inactive for the first two games.
Biermann’s role made it difficult for the opposition to determine if the Falcons were in a 3-4 or a 4-3 alignment. A couple of players may be needed to replace him.
“There is a role for a defensive end for when Kroy was playing defensive end,” Smith said. “There is a role for one of the linebackers for when he was playing linebacker. We put that in place from the very beginning. As you know, your roster never stays the same from year to year and it usually doesn’t stay the same from week to week.
“We will make the adjustments and move forward.”
Smith met with Ewing early Monday morning. He’s had continual trouble with injuries since being drafted in the fifth-round of the 2012 draft from Wisconsin. He sustained a season-ending knee injury last year and missed most of training camp with an undisclosed injury.
“I just told him, ‘Hey, we just have got to get you healthy,’” Smith said. “March and April will roll around, we’ll reconnect and get going moving forward.”
In addition to Ewing and Biermann, running back Steven Jackson (thigh), defensive end Cliff Matthews (neck), cornerback Asante Samuel (thigh) and linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (foot) all left the Rams game in the first half. Only Matthews returned.
Jason Snelling played both fullback and running back against the Rams. He will be Ewing’s main replacement and, along with Jacquizz Rodgers, will continue to backup Jackson.
“Jason stepped in (Sunday) and did some very good things,” Smith said. “He had the touchdown run. He had the nice catch on the third down-and-1. We’ve got a number of guys whose roles will change.”
If Weatherspoon is slowed, rookie linebacker Joplo Bartu figures to pick up playing time. He started and played extensively in the Falcons’ nickel package against the Rams.
“In the preseason, we used him exclusively one game and we wanted to see how he handled it,” Smith said. “He earned the opportunity to go out there and play in our (nickel) package. I thought he did a good job. He made a great tackle there early on in the first drive when they were backed up. It was a textbook open-field tackle.
“I think he will continue to get more reps.”