Falcons QB Marcus Mariota to undergo procedure on knee

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons backup quarterback Marcus Mariota will be placed on injured reserve Wednesday and is expected to have a procedure on his knee scheduled for next week, according to Falcons head coach Arthur Smith.

The Falcons had benched Mariota in favor of rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder during the team's off week last week.

Smith declined to say when they learned of Mariota's knee injury, which Smith said Monday was chronic and not part of the decision to move from Mariota to Ridder -- just that he is going to be having a procedure next week. Mariota left the team in search of doctors' opinions before Saturday.

"Things come up. Those are the things that happen in pro football," Smith said. "A guy has an issue, goes to see a doctor. That's what happens."

Falcons quarterbacks coach Charles London declined to talk about Mariota's injury, just saying that "we wish Marcus the best."

Ridder said Mariota told him he was going to leave to handle his knee issue.

"He was in here one of the days we were in here," Ridder said. "He just told me best of luck, that he's going to be there for me if I needed anything and never be afraid to reach out."

Mariota was not listed on the Atlanta injury report at any point this season.

Mariota completed 184 of 300 passes for 2,219 yards, 15 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. Atlanta lost four of its last five games with Mariota as quarterback. Smith also didn't want to discuss whether Mariota would have been beneficial on the sidelines for the rest of the season, too.

Logan Woodside, signed Saturday off Tennessee's practice squad, will serve as Ridder's backup. Woodside, the experienced quarterback in the room, is 1 of 3 for seven yards in his career -- those reps coming in 2020 with Tennessee under Smith, who was the Titans' offensive coordinator at the time. Woodside also has 13 carries for four yards in his career between 2020 and 2021.

Smith also said starting defensive lineman Ta'Quon Graham, who suffered a knee injury in November, will not be expected back this season.

Falcons left tackle Jake Matthews said he texted Mariota to congratulate him on the birth of his child but that otherwise they haven't spoken much. He said he hopes Mariota heals up and that Mariota never gave him an indication he was hurt, but that also "he wouldn't let you know," because of his toughness.

Outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter said the team respects Mariota and understand he had to leave to handle his knee issue.

"He put in his work," Carter told ESPN. "He gave it all he had and now, with the change, he went to do what he had to do. We don't feel like he left us out or left us hanging.

"We respect him too much and saw how much he work he put in all year to feel like that. So that's outside. In here, it's all love."