Atlanta Falcons center Alex Mack is struggling with a fractured fibula injury that would normally sideline him for weeks, but it appears he’s ready to give it a go for the Super Bowl today for his team. Hopefully he is healthy enough!
"Getting him a chance to see him practice at full speed on Wednesday, Thursday was really important for me," Falcons coach Dan Quinn told ESPN's Ed Werder on Saturday. "I wanted to make sure he could go do his thing and just really fly and haul. He's such a unique player because of the quickness he plays with, so I was pleased to see that. We held him the week prior to heal and get right. I was pleased he got the work in. It was totally by design. We were going to give him half his normal reps on Wednesday and Thursday and let him do the normal Friday, and that's how we laid out the week for him. It went exactly like we thought."
Discuss the Super Bowl here.
In piecing together what’s made this unit the highest-scoring offense in football and one of the most terror-inducing squads in league history, people are quick to mention a familiar cast of characters: an MVP quarterback, a receiver from another galaxy, and a play-calling mastermind of an offensive coordinator. Just as vital, though, has been the arrival of All-Pro center Mack, and the cohesion he’s brought to this offensive line.
“I think you can kind of see [Mack’s influence] this year with the transformation Atlanta’s gone through,” says Chiefs right tackle Mitchell Schwartz, who played with Mack for four seasons in Cleveland from 2012 to 2015. “Obviously, Julio [Jones] is playing amazing and Matt Ryan’s having a career year, but I think that’s all kind of linked to their offensive line stability and [Alex] going there and stabilizing it, just like he did for us [on the Browns].”
''It's been a very fun year but it was nerve-wracking at first,'' Mack said. ''Switch teams, new place, be in a new building. I think I hit the ground running pretty fast. I really wanted to see that team success, and we've done a good job of that.''
When Mack visited the Falcons on the first day of free agency, the team made sure he didn't leave without a record deal. The offense had top playmakers in Ryan, receiver Julio Jones and running back Devonta Freeman, but it needed an elite center to solidify the line.
''To get a guy who you know is a good player and you know the type of person he is, sometimes you have to do a lot to get that guy,'' offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said. ''But if you're getting a good player who's that type of a person, to me it's usually a slam dunk. They're only going to help you.''
Enjoy the Super Bowl everyone!