One of the risks of carrying a 43-year-old kicker is the potential for injury. That's what the Atlanta Falcons face this week with the ageless Matt Bryant, a 17-year veteran who is likely to be unavailable for Monday's game against the New York Giants.
Bryant sprained his right hamstring on the crucial 57-yard field goal at the end of Sunday's 34-29 win over Tampa Bay. Rather than punt and leave the Bucs only needing a field goal to win the game in the waning moments, coach Dan Quinn rolled the dice -- and risked a potential field-position dilemma -- by having Bryant try the field goal.
Bryant delivered the third-longest kick of his career but instantly grabbed his right hamstring after the forceful kick. He limped off the field and was immediately taken to the locker room for examination.
Quinn said the injury "will likely knock him out this week. ... The guys are working on that now. Likely we'll add another player to the roster for Thursday."
Quinn would not specify, but a likely candidate is Giorgio Tavecchio, who joined the team in the later portion of training camp.
"There's a couple guys that we're talking to, but he's certainly one," Quinn said.
Tavecchio, a second-year player out of Cal, kicked in 16 games for the Oakland Raiders in 2017. He was 16-for-21 on field goals and 33-for-34 on extra points. He had one field goal blocked.
Another option might be former University of Georgia kicker David Marvin, who was also with the team in preseason. Marvin missed his only field goal try in the preseason against the New York Jets.
"I think part of the reason for bringing some guys in is contingency planning," Quinn said. "If this situation ever came about, you'd like to be prepared for it. (Tavecchio) was somebody we definitely had on our radar. Each position you kind of have a few guys that you would reach out to if those situations came up. So, he's definitely one that we're considering."
Bryant wasn't the only player shaken up on Sunday. Quinn is waiting on reports about wide receivers Calvin Ridley and Mohamed Sanu, who both left the game against Tampa Bay. Quinn said more will be known about injuries that kept running back Devonta Freeman (foot), defensive end Derrick Shelby (groin), and defensive tackle Grady Jarrett (high ankle sprain) out.
"It's nice to have an extra day this week in terms of our preparation as we're heading toward our game Monday night," Quinn said.
--QB Matt Ryan threw for 354 yards and three touchdowns against Tampa Bay. His touchdown pass to Tevin Coleman was the 274th of his career and surpassed Joe Montana for 16th on the NFL's all-time list.
--RB Ito Smith rushed for a touchdown for the third straight game, making him the first Atlanta rookie to accomplish the feat. He leads the team with three rushing touchdowns and is tied for second-most among rookies in the NFL.
--WR Julio Jones had 10 receptions for 143 yards vs. Tampa Bay, his third 100-yard game of the season and 42nd of his career. Jones has 707 yards, which leads the NFL, but has yet to score a touchdown.
--TE Austin Hooper had nine catches for the second straight week. Hooper accounted for 71 yards and had a 9-yard touchdown.
--WR Calvin Ridley left the game in the first quarter with an ankle injury and did not return. Coach Dan Quinn was hopeful that Ridley will be able to return against the Giants.