FLOWERING BRANCH, Ga.
The Atlanta Falcons are due to reconfigure their high school this week after losing a nickel to Isaiah Oliver’s back to a season-ending knee injury.
Additionally, safety Erik Harris’s starting status for Sunday’s game against the New York Jets in London is uncertain due to a calf injury that forced him to withdraw from the 34-30 loss of last week against Washington.
The Falcons put Oliver on the injured list on Tuesday. Coach Arthur Smith confirmed on Wednesday that Oliver would miss the rest of the season. He also said injured players such as Harris and defensive tackle Marlon Davidson (ankle) may not make it to London.
“If there’s a chance they’ll play, we’ll take them with us,” Smith said.
Injuries in the secondary could force a dramatic reshuffle of the depth card. There could be bigger roles for rookies Avery Williams, who played behind Oliver against Washington, and Richie Grant.
“Of course all the options are on the table,” said Smith, adding that cornerback Kendall Sheffield was experienced in the role of nickel.
Smith said Williams “did a good job” but still has room to improve.
“Certainly, like all of us, there are play-calls that I want to get back,” said Smith. “There are some games that I’m sure he wants to come back to. He’s a beginner. He is very intelligent and he has a lot of intelligent football instincts.
Sheffield (undisclosed) and left guard Josh Andrews (hand) could come out of the injured reserve this week. Smith said the two will travel to London.
Smith said Oliver’s injury was particularly painful as the cornerback found a home in the nickel role.
“I can’t say enough good things about him as a pro, as a teammate,” said Smith. “He’s one of the guys I really enjoyed. He really bought into it and had a good year. It is regrettable. “
Oliver had nine tackles, one forced fumble and one fumble recovered in four games before injuring his knee in the first half.
Washington quarterback Taylor Heinicke had 290 yards and three touchdowns, including two in the last 3:52, to beat the Falcons (1-3). Atlanta was leading 30-22 at the start of the last period.
Another player who could move on to high school is sophomore safety Jaylinn Hawkins. The Falcons signed goaltender Shawn Williams to the practice squad on Tuesday.
“We can have multiple guys stepping up and playing different roles,” Smith said. “We feel good with the guys we have here.”