FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — Atlanta Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts is done for the season because of a knee injury.
Coach Arthur Smith gave an update on Pitts' status Wednesday after the second-year player revealed on social media that he had a procedure on his right knee the day before.
Pitts, a Pro Bowler in his rookie season, went down in a Nov. 20 win over the Bears when tackled low. He was placed on injured reserve amid reports that he has sustained a torn MCL and would need surgery.
“You knew it was going to be close," Smith said. “Until you examine it and know if you’re going to have any operation done, you don’t know."
Smith said Pitts is expected to make a full recovery ahead of next season.
“There's nothing that concerns us going into 2023,” the coach said.
Pitts had a dynamic debut for the Falcons after being the No. 4 overall pick in the 2021 draft, hauling in 68 catches for 1,026 yards and one touchdown.
But his role diminished this season as Atlanta (5-7) went to more of a run-oriented offense after dealing quarterback Matt Ryan to Indianapolis and bringing in Marcus Mariota as his replacement.
When Pitts went down in Week 10, he had just 28 receptions for 356 yards and two TDs.
But, sticking with a theme he's espoused all season, Smith said his young tight end became “a more complete player” in Year 2.
“They’re very different years," Smith said. “Obviously, he had bigger statistical numbers in the passing game a year ago. We were a much different team and in a much different place where you saw a lot of growth in a lot of other jobs that we’ve asked him to do.”
Atlanta hosts the Pittsburgh Steelers (4-7) on Sunday, still holding out hope of making the playoffs.
The Falcons are just a half-game behind Tampa Bay in the NFC South, where none of the four teams has a winning record.
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