Ahead of their second-ever Super Bowl appearance, the Atlanta Falcons are taking no chances and all precautions with the linchpin of their offense.

Falcons center Alex Mack is dealing with a swollen, painful sprained ankle, an injury he suffered in last Sunday’s NFC Championship Game. While Mack returned to the game after a brief exit, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported, per a source, that Atlanta will likely hold the center out of practice during the bye week.



Rapoport adds that Mack is expected to play in Super Bowl LI against the Patriots and will rest his ankle to ensure his ability to play in his first Big Game. The center also said as much on Schein on Sports on Tuesday: “We’re doing good. We’ll be there on gameday.”

The most important piece of the only offensive line in the league to start all 16 games as a five-man unit, Mack has incalcuable value to Atlanta’s juggernaut of an offense. The center came over in the offseason from Cleveland, signing a five-year deal with the Falcons, and immediately fell into a comfort zone in offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s offense, one he briefly guided as a member of the Browns.

Mack finished 2016 as Pro Football Focus’ third-ranked center, a Pro Bowler, a second-team All-Pro member and the highly regarded pointman for MVP favorite Matt Ryan and the NFC champions. 

It’d be silly and downright irresponsible to try to push Mack out on the practice field if his ankle is not ready. That’s why there’s a bye week in between Championship Weekend and the Super Bowl. Everyone wants the best, healthiest product out there on the biggest stage, from the league to the organizations to the fans and on down.

Here are the other injuries we’re monitoring on Tuesday:

1. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin told reporters that he was aware that Le’Veon Bell was managing a groin injury down the stretch of the 2016 season, but that he didn’t report it because the injury never forced Bell to miss practice or game time.

“It was just something to manage,” Tomlin elaborated. “I think when you look at the journey that is the season, I think that just about every guy down there is dealing with and managing something in an effort to stay on the grass. So I was aware of it, but it wasn’t significant to the point where it affected planning or the anticipation of planning in anyway.”

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