Atlanta Falcons center Alex Mack has a fractured left fibula, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. In spite of the injury, Mack still plans to play on Sunday evening when the Falcons and Patriots kick off Super Bowl LI.
Mack suffered the injury in the NFC Championship game, when the Falcons beat the Packers 44-21. At any other point in the season, Mack would likely be forced to miss from six to eight weeks. But he’ll try to fight through it and recuperate in the offseason. Still, playing with the injury has the Falcons concerned.
"I just know his toughness and strength is so great," Falcons coach Dan Quinn said, according the Cleveland.com. "The good thing is, I know he's feeling better than he did in the NFC Championship Game. But yeah, I'm concerned. I'm not panicked, but I'm concerned."
The team listed him as limited in practice throughout the week, and he didn’t take the practice field at all last week. Atlanta’s biggest concern with Mack is how his leg will hold up making downfield blocks, which help spring the running backs and receivers for the kind of big plays the Falcons have thrived on all season.
This isn’t the first time Mack has suffered a broken fibula. He broke the same one in 2014 and had a plate inserted above it. His current fracture is right above the plate on his left fibula.
"He's a warrior that has played through some terrible stuff,'' former teammate Joe Thomas told Cleveland.com. "This should be no problem.''
Matt Ryan’s MVP season and the Falcons’ blistering offensive pace this season wouldn’t have been possible without Mack, who signed a five-year, $45 million deal last spring. His presence on the offensive line has transformed what the offense is capable of. He’s the team’s unsung hero.