ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Falcons plan to sign a quarterback this week after losing backup AJ McCarron to a season-ending knee injury.
The Falcons began working out free-agent quarterbacks after Monday's practice. Coach Arthur Smith said the team could audition more quarterbacks next week. Atlanta likely will look at final cuts from other teams before making a final decision on their quarterback depth chart for the regular season.
The Falcons confirmed late Sunday that McCarron will miss the season. An MRI showed McCarron suffered an ACL injury to his right knee in Saturday night's 37-17 preseason loss to the Miami Dolphins.
McCarron was the favorite to open the season as Matt Ryan's backup. His injury leaves rookie Feleipe Franks as the only other quarterback on the roster.
“We’re going to work some guys out this afternoon and we’re going to continue to look at all avenues to see if we can add to that spot,” Smith said after Monday's practice. “We’re good with the two we’ve got right now with Matt and Feleipe, but we’ll add one at some point this week.”
Franks has shown the ability to be productive as a runner when chased out of the pocket, but he has struggled as a passer. He also took two sacks on one possession, including one for a safety, in the loss to the Dolphins.
A quarterback who joins the competition this week could have an instant opportunity to win the job as the team's top backup. The Falcons play their final preseason game on Sunday against Cleveland.
Franks could have the edge over another rookie, but his struggles under pressure could encourage Smith and general manager Terry Fontenot to add experience to the competition.
“Depending on who we sign, they’ll be ready to go, depending on what we want to do,” Smith said of plans for the quarterbacks against the Browns.
The 30-year-old McCarron was signed to replace longtime backup Matt Schaub, who retired. Smith said McCarron showed improvement against the Dolphins and was devastated after suffering the injury.
“It’s tough with these players,” Smith said. “They put their heart and soul into this profession and sacrifice a lot and obviously he was pretty upset.”
Smith said McCarron will remain around the team if possible while on injured reserve this season.
Ryan and other starters have not played in the team's first two preseason games. Smith said the team will go through practice this week as if all players will be available against Cleveland on Sunday, but he said he hasn't decided how to use the starters.
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