The Falcons are expected to be without defensive end Adrian Clayborn for upwards of a month, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. A torn MCL and partially torn meniscus will shelve the edge starter, per Schefter, with surgery being a likely course of action.
The sixth-year veteran has been fairly productive this season, recording 4.5 sacks — an improvement from the three he registered in Atlanta in 2015 — and rating as Pro Football Focus’ No. 45 edge defender. Those 4.5 sacks are second only to Vic Beasley‘s 9.5 on the NFC South-leading Falcons. Clayborn also notched his first NFL touchdown this season, returning an interception five yards for a score against the Chargers last month.
Without Clayborn for possibly the remainder of the regular season, the Falcons have some experienced options to plug in as a starter. Tyson Jackson, Courtney Upshaw and Dwight Freeney each reside as depth pieces, although Jackson profiles more as an interior defender. Freeney (three sacks) has played 274 snaps to Clayborn’s 484 but was a starter as recently as two years ago.
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