Atlanta Falcons defense coordinator Dean Pees left the field on a stretcher following a collision with a New Orleans Saints player while they were running practice returns prior to Sunday’s game.
Shortly after the collision, medical personnel and coaches surrounded the Falcons’ defense coordinator at the 35-yard line before a cart arrived to transport Pees off of the field. According to the team, Pees was “stable, alert and responsive and then transported to the University Medical Center New Orleans for medical testing.”
Linebackers coach Frank Bush will step into Pees’ place, calling the defensive plays for the Falcons’ game against the Saints. Pees, 73 years old, is the oldest defensive coordinator in the NFL. He has been with the Falcons for two years after coming out of retirement.
At the time of the accident, Falcons safety Erik Harris was one of the first to arrive at the site. Head coach Arthur Smith, general manager Terry Fontenot, team president Rick McKay and owner Arthur Blank soon joined the crowd.
It’s unclear which Saints player collided with Pees on the field or the extent of the DC’s injuries.
This is a developing story.
Falcons Lose Kyle Pitts For the Year Due to Torn MCL
Late last month, the Falcons also lost another crucial team member to injury, tight end, Kyle Pitts. According to reports, Pitts tore his MCL on November 21 during a winning game against Chicago early in the third quarter.
Following an MRI, it was clear Pitts wouldn’t be back on the field for the remainder of the season. A week after the injury, Pittss underwent surgery and is now beginning the slow process of recovery. The Falcons tight end shared an update from his hospital bed, sporting a hard cast and brace over the majority of his leg.
In the meantime, Smith assured that Pitts’ absence wouldn’t affect the team’s offensive strategy too much.
“It’s our job as coaches to adapt and evolve,” Smith told the NFL’s Athletic. “We have the right guys out there, guys who have played multiple roles for us.”
Ultimately, though, the Falcons had to make the right call for Pitts.
“This is your compass — you do what is best for the player’s health,” Smith said. “I would never advocate somebody doing something that wasn’t in the best interest of their health.”
However, QB Marc Mariota stated that there was no replacing Pitts and that it would take several other players to match the tight end’s performance.
“You have to fill that role with a few guys,” Mariota said. “He turned into one of our better blocking tight ends. He’s such a force in the passing game. So to fill that void, you have to have a couple guys step up.”
“It’s very unfortunate, but we’ll get him back whenever that is and he’ll be back better than ever,” the quarterback said.