Oct 29, 2023; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Taylor Heinicke (4) stands in the pocket against the Tennessee Titans during the second half at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

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Arthur Smith: Falcons’ QB decision to come Wednesday

Following the Atlanta Falcons’ 28-23 loss to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, all eyes are on the quarterback position with a home game against the Minnesota Vikings on deck.

Desmond Ridder was evaluated for a concussion and the team said he was cleared of a head injury, but he did not play in the second half and was replaced in the lineup by Taylor Heinicke.

Head coach Arthur Smith did not give a definitive answer when asked Monday who his starting quarterback would be against Minnesota.

“I gotta see where he (Ridder) is at,” Smith said. “That’s the best I can give you, but I gotta see where he’s at and see if that’s the best thing for this team this week. Obviously, it’s not something I’m concerned with long term. He’s done a lot of good things, but we have to find a way to go win this game. If it’s Taylor, that’s what we’ll do, but my concern is Des.”

Ridder played the first half against the Titans and completed 8 of 12 passes for 71 yards and ran for 26 yards. But he was sacked five times and lost a fumble when he was hit by defensive end Jeffery Simmons midway through the second quarter, which led to a Tennessee touchdown and a 14-3 lead.

After Atlanta totaled just 89 yards in the first half, Heinicke completed 12 of 21 passes for 175 yards and a score and guided the Falcons (4-4) to points on four of his first five possessions in the second half.

Facing continuous questions about the quarterback position, Smith said he would give an answer on who will be the starter by Wednesday.

“We’ll use the next 24 hours to evaluate,” Smith said. “We’ll obviously listen to the medical experts first and evaluate in the short term what’s best thing for Des, what’s best thing for this team. … I’m not going to sit here and play games because whoever is going to play this week to try and beat Minnesota is going to get the reps.”

The Vikings have won three in a row and four of their last five games, but they will arrive in Atlanta without star quarterback Kirk Cousins, who tore his right Achilles in Sunday’s 24-10 win over Green Bay and is out for the year.

With Cousins out, Minnesota (4-4) will likely turn to rookie Jaren Hall, with veteran Nick Mullens still on injured reserve and eligible to be activated ahead of Week 10. Hall replaced Cousins and completed 3 of 4 passes for 23 yards against the Packers.

A major bright spot for the Vikings has been the play of rookie receiver Jordan Addison. Through eight games, Addison has 36 receptions for 482 yards and seven touchdowns, which ranks second to only the Miami Dolphins’ Tyreek Hill (eight TDs receiving) for tops in the league. Addison has been a welcome addition since star wideout Justin Jefferson went on IR early this month with a hamstring injury.

–Atlanta defensive lineman Grady Jarrett tore his ACL in the loss to the Titans and is out for the year. The two-time Pro Bowler has been one of the NFL’s best interior linemen and had 1.5 sacks, eight quarterback hits, two passes defended and 23 combined tackles (two for a loss) in eight starts this season.

“Hate it for Grady,” Smith said.

–Fullback Keith Smith (concussion) and wideout Drake London (groin) left Sunday’s game against the Titans.

“Guys with concussions will have to go through the protocols,” Smith said. “On Drake, don’t have an official timeline, but it wasn’t as bad as we thought, so there is some positive news there.”

–Field Level Media

Field Level Media
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