While Gono’s injury is unknown, Rothstein added that it is not season-ending.
Gono originally signed with Atlanta as an undrafted free agent following the 2018 NFL draft. He spent last year at the backup swing tackle behind Jake Matthews and Kaleb McGary.
He ended up seeing action in all 16 games with four starts. He played a total of 337 offensive snaps in addition to 80 snaps on special teams. He signed his restricted free agent tender this offseason, which cost the Falcons $3.3 million and is guaranteed.
The 25-year-old is expected to start at left guard this season after playing just one game in the spot last year.
Second-year guard Matt Hennessy and rookies Jalen Mayfield and Drew Dalman would be the ones to fill in for Gono if he’s not ready to go by Week 1.
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Competition Will Be Hot in Training Camp
The Falcons wrapped up their last OTA on Thursday, so the next time we see them back in action won’t be until Jul 22nd for training camp.
Overall, first-year head coach Arthur Smith was pleased with what he saw from the guys.
“These guys have done a nice job that have been here,” Smith said via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “They have worked hard about understanding the schematics, and obviously it goes both ways.”
Smith emphasized that the competition is not over yet and only the best will play. Of course, for a select few, they have earned their spot.
“I hope the competition is going to be hot,” Smith said. “Guys have to earn their job. It’s a constant evaluation. Obviously, with some more than others that you can probably pencil in. I don’t think it’s a far reach to say, ‘Hey, Jake Matthews is going to be our left tackle.’ But there is going to be competition just about everywhere, and if Jake isn’t performing, then you have to play the best player. I really hope it’s a competitive camp and they understand that every job is open.”
Left Guard Remains Open
One position that is not set in stone whatsoever is at left guard and it has been that way for the past three seasons.
James Carpenter was the Week 1 starting left guard in both 2019 and 2020, but injuries hindered his potential. And in order to make some room, the Falcons released the vet this offseason.
Depending on whoever wins the center position battle between Hennessey and Dalman, they could have their answer in the loser.
With Gono out, the Falcons used free agent signee Josh Andrews and Mayfield at left guard.
Andrews, 29, has been bouncing around the NFL and played just one game at left guard last season. Meanwhile, Mayfield, a Michigan product, was projected to go off the boards a lot sooner than in the round, has played primarily at right tackle.
Gono, if healthy by July’s camp, will also take part in the right tackle battle between Kaleb McGary and Mayfield.
When it comes down to it, it doesn’t matter who gets the starting job, Smith is only putting the best five on the line.
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