3:47pm: In a move which comes as little surprise given the severity of the injury, the Falcons have placed Pitts on IR, per a club announcement. He will miss at least he next four games as a result.
11:35am: The Falcons appear to be in line for an extended absence from one of their top young players. Following an MRI on Monday, tight end Kyle Pitts is believed to have suffered a torn MCL, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (Twitter link).
Rapoport notes that the injury, if confirmed, will require surgery. Pitts will seek a second opinion on the matter before deciding on his next steps. In any case, this news marks a major blow to Atlanta’s passing game, one which was already lacking in accomplished pass-catchers. Pitts was in the midst of a down year in terms of production compared to his Pro Bowl rookie campaign, but he nevertheless ranks third on the team in receiving yards in 2022.
Last year’s No. 4 pick entered the league with massive expectations as the highest-drafted tight end of all-time. He delivered last season, with 68 catches and 1,026 yards. With only one touchdown, though, he had plenty of room to improve heading into Year 2. He has found the endzone just once this season, however, and eclipsed 80 receiving yards in a game only twice. A hamstring injury kept him sidelined for Week 5, his first missed game in the NFL.
This latest ailment will be far more detrimental to the Florida product and the Falcons’ offense, of course. Atlanta ranks 31st in the league with an average of 171 passing yards per game, owing in part to the effectiveness of their rushing attack and in part to a distinct of playmakers in the air. Rookie wideout Drake London leads the team with 409 receiving yards, and will likely be forced to take on a larger role in the passing game moving forward.
With a lengthy – if not season-ending – absence looming, the Falcons will likely turn to a committee approach to replace Pitts at tight end. MyCole Pruitt logged a season-high 31 offensive snaps yesterday with Pitts exiting the contest. Parker Hesse is also in line for an increased workload for the remainder of the campaign, though that pair has combined to make just nine catches so far in 2022. Sitting at 5-6, the Falcons are still in the race for the NFC South title, but their playoff hopes have taken a serious hit.