FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- The Atlanta Falcons placed starting left guard Andy Levitre on injured reserve after Levitre aggravated a left triceps injury last week, meaning Ben Garland will start Saturday's wild-card game against the Los Angeles Rams.
Levitre, who missed three games after initially suffering the injury, played just five snaps in last Sunday's 22-10 win over Carolina. He started all 32 regular games and all three playoff games during his first two seasons with the team.
"We're bummed for him, but we do appreciate how hard he worked for it,'' Falcons coach Dan Quinn said of Levitre.
Garland has three career starts, all in place of Levitre this season. He's been a backup at center and both guard spots and even played some defensive tackle for the Falcons last season. Entering 2017, he lost the right guard battle to Wes Schweitzer but remained a key reserve.
"Usually when I think of Ben, I think of just a guy who's loaded with grit,'' Quinn said. "He came here as an opportunity on the practice squad and we said, 'We're going to push you and develop you and challenge you.' And you see that lit him up in a really good way.''
Garland is destined for his toughest challenge as a pro in Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who lines up at multiple positions along the defensive line. Donald led the Rams with 11 sacks and tied for fourth in the league with 27 quarterback hits.
`"Well, it's not going to be on his own the whole game, '' Quinn said of Garland facing Donald. ``[Donald] plays at a number of different spots. But Aaron's really having a fantastic year. What makes him unique [is] he has really good get-off and that's part of being a good defensive tackle. But the use of his hands is excellent. He's got leverage. He can use his hands, get up field. So all of us, from a challenge standpoint, he's a factor in this game for sure.''
In terms of trying to slow down Donald, Falcons center Alex Mack is also dealing with a calf injury.
With the roster spot open after placing Levitre on IR, the Falcons promoted running back Terrence Magee to the active roster.