Vivlamore reporting from Flowery Branch.
Brent Grimes’ season is over.
The Falcons starting cornerback was placed on the injured reserve list with an Achilles tendon injury suffered in Sunday’s season-opening victory over the Chiefs. Grimes, who had the franchise tag placed on him in March, had an MRI Monday which revealed surgery was necessary.
According to coach Mike Smith, the recovery period following the surgical procedure will extend beyond the season.
“Obviously, it hurts our depth any time you lose a player of that caliber,” Smith said. “Brent’s made a number of plays. Since we’ve been here, he’s been a cornerstone at the position, both left and right [cornerback].
“It’s the next man up mentality. That’s the way you have to approach it. There are a number of guys who have play time on our roster right now. It’s something that as a coaching staff we’ll put together what we feel is the best plan in terms of how we will configure out nickel package. That’s the biggest thing we’ll have to do.”
Grimes, a Pro Bowler in 2010, started Sunday’s game at right cornerback. Asante Samuel, a four-time Pro Bowler acquired in the offseason, started at left cornerback. Dunta Robinson played in the nickel package, which Smith said was all but 11 plays against the Chiefs.
Grimes left the game in the fourth quarter Sunday with what was announced as a calf injury. He did not return.
The Falcons do not get any salary-cap relief for the loss of Grimes. They have approximately $1.061 million in salary-cap space should they choose to sign another player.
Samuel and Robinson will now start at cornerback with Christopher Owens likely assuming the nickel role. The Falcons also have Dominique Franks and Robert McClain on the active roster and Peyton Thompson on the practice squad at cornerback.
“How we configure this is something we’ll discuss over the next several days,” Smith said of the rotation. “We’ve got lots of flexibility in terms of our secondary. Injuries are a part of this game unfortunately. We felt like we were adding a corner [in Samuel] that gave us three No. 1 corners. We’ve had an injury and we’ll have to adjust. We will adjust.”
The Falcons kept Grimes for another season when they placed the franchise tag on him in March. He will earn $10.281 million this year on a one-year contract. He is entering his fifth season with the Falcons after making the team as an undrafted free agent out of Shippensburg University. Grime made the Pro Bowl following the 2010 season.
It is the second surgery that will cause Grimes to miss games in the past two seasons. He said before the start of the season that he was fully recovered from the right knee surgery he needed in November that caused him to miss three of the last four regular-season games and the playoff loss to the Giants.
Grimes finished with one interception, 35 tackles and 12 assists in 12 games last season. He played in all 16 regular-season games in both 2009 and 2010 and had a combined 11 interceptions, including five in 2010 when went to the Pro Bowl as an alternate.
“I was able to do a lot of things that I like to do which is move in space, run, hit, tackle, blitz,” Robinson said of his now-temporary move inside.
The Falcons now have five players on injured reserve in offensive lineman Will Svitek, safety Shann Schillinger, rookie fullback Bradie Ewing, rookie tight end Adam Nissley and Grimes.
- Chris Vivlamore