FLOWERY BRANCH (AP) — An Atlanta Falcons defense already having to adjust to losing its top cornerback for the season now also must compensate for the loss of one of its top pass rushers.
Coach Dan Quinn said Wednesday defensive end Adrian Clayborn, who is second on the team with 4½ sacks, will miss at least two weeks after having surgery on his left knee. Clayborn suffered the injury in Sunday’s 38-19 win over Arizona .
The loss of Clayborn came after cornerback Desmond Trufant was placed on injured reserve with a torn pectoral muscle that forced him to miss the past two weeks.
Quinn said the good news is Clayborn didn’t have to join Trufant on IR as the Falcons prepare for Sunday’s game against Kansas City.
“We are very encouraged that we don’t see it as a long-term injury,” Quinn said. “You never like to see a player have a surgery, but in this case it was good news because he thought it was going to be a season-ender. So when it wasn’t he was thrilled, and we were, too.”
The defense already has lost linebacker Sean Weatherspoon and defensive end Derrick Shelby to season-ending injuries and has had linebackers De’Vondre Campbell and Deion Jones and safety Keanu Neal miss time.
The losses are beginning to mount for a defense which ranks only 27th in yards allowed. Atlanta is last in the league in pass defense.
Clayborn posted on his Twitter feed on Tuesday night that the surgery went well.
“Surgery went great. Time to attack this recovery so I can get back out there with my brothers!” Clayborn wrote on his Twitter account.
The Falcons’ depth chart lists Clayborn as the top backup to Brooks Reed.
Quinn said veteran pass rush specialist Dwight Freeney will be given more snaps, as will Reed and Courtney Upshaw.
Freeney was held out of Wednesday’s practice, which isn’t unusual, even though he is not on the injury report. The Falcons have tried to protect Freeney, 36, by limiting his snaps in games and practice.
Freeney has three sacks and now may have more chances to build on that modest total.
“The fact that we’ve limited it somewhat to this point has him feeling fresh,” Quinn said.
Jalen Collins already has had two games to adjust to his new starting role as Trufant’s replacement. Collins had six tackles and defended three passes against Arizona.
“I believe we have a great ability to overcome adversity,” Collins said. “We’ve been through a lot the first half of the season. We’ve come a long way. We’re continuing to grow. It’s always bad when you lose guys, but we’re always going to prepare and get those guys as ready as possible so that we don’t have any drop-off.”
Quinn said he won’t let the injuries on defense affect the play-calling on offense. He said the offense would continue to attack instead of worry about holding the ball to protect the defense.
“We’re comfortable with the guys we’re going into battle with,” he said.
NOTES: The team waived punter Matt Wile as starter Matt Bosher is ready to return from his hamstring injury. The team signed center Trevor Robinson and cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson. Wreh-Wilson started in 14 of his 34 games the past three years for Tennessee and was waived before the season. Robinson has spent time with the Bengals and Chargers. The Falcons also signed offensive lineman Kevin Graf to their practice squad.