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Falcons BREAKING: Benched QB Marcus Mariota - Knee Surgery, IR Move

Falcon Report on FanNation 12/14/2022 Daniel Flick
© Provided by Falcon Report on FanNation

Atlanta Falcons coach Arthur Smith revealed how much Marcus Mariota's injury influenced his decision to make a quarterback change to Desmond Ridder.

During a Monday press conference, Atlanta Falcons coach Arthur Smith officially named rookie Desmond Ridder the team's starting quarterback moving forward, replacing veteran starter Marcus Mariota.

Just moments later, Smith shared more information about Mariota - this time much more unexpected: the 29-year-old has been suffering from a "chronic" knee injury that has him currently away from the team seeking other opinions, likely resulting in a move to injured reserve.

UPDATE: Mariota will indeed be placed on injured reserve Wednesday and is expected to have surgery on his knee next week, Smith revealed.

The Falcons had benched Mariota in favor of rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder during the team's off week last week.

Instantly, there was speculation surrounding whether Mariota's ailment impacted his play and, perhaps even more importantly, influenced Smith's decision for a quarterback swap - but Atlanta's second-year coach put both ideas to rest.

"I would anticipate (Mariota will go on IR)," Smith began. "And that had nothing to do with the move here. (Happens to) a lot of athletes, something chronic, nothing that's been an issue this season, but that's their prerogative."

A trip to injured reserve would mean a four-week absence for Mariota, knocking him out for the remainder of the regular season. In his absence, the Falcons signed Logan Woodside off the Tennessee Titans practice squad to serve as Ridder's backup.

Smith shared that it's been a push from Mariota, not the team, to get the knee injury looked at. The former Heisman Trophy winner informed Smith of the decision Friday, just one day after being benched.

Thus, considering the timeline of events and statement from Smith, it's evident that Mariota's injury failed to play a part in the final outcome.

"I'm not a medical expert," Smith stressed. "Just telling you that it had nothing to do with the decision."

Instead, it was a "performance-based decision," with Smith citing the need for more overall production from the quarterback position after Mariota threw for over 200 yards just once over his final 10 games.

Ridder, likely with Woodside instead of Mariota at his back, will start his first NFL game Sunday on the road against the New Orleans Saints, with kickoff set for 1 p.m.

You can follow Daniel Flick on Twitter @DFlickDraft

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