Difficult path facing Beck

Jordan Beck

FLOWERY BRANCH - Keith Brooking and Warrick Dunn know what it's like to stand in the shoes of rookie linebacker Jordan Beck.

The two longtime NFL veterans suffered a similar season-ending injury - tearing a ligament at the base of their toes - earlier in their careers.

Brooking hurt his foot in 2000, the linebacker's third season with the Atlanta Falcons. Dunn's injury took place in 2003, his second with the Falcons and seventh overall.

At practice Sunday, Brooking and Dunn could look at Jordan Beck and remember the difficult rehab they endured. Beck heard several encouraging comments as he stood with his left leg in an oversized cast, but at least he knew Brooking and Dunn feel no lingering effects from the injury.

Judging by the huge knot on top of his left foot last week, Beck endured considerable pain after intercepting a pass in the fourth quarter at Jacksonville. The rookie, a third-round draft choice from Cal Poly, believes the injury occurred as he was tackled.

"It got caught up under there right when he hit me, and I guess the combination of my weight and some of his weight just put too much pressure on it," Beck said. "I could tell it was pretty serious."

Beck is expected to travel Thursday to Charlotte, where will visit the same physician who operated on Dunn. The Falcons might not place him on injured reserve until Tuesday, when NFL teams must reduce their rosters to 65 players.

"It's unfortunate that he got hurt making a good play like he did, especially," head coach Jim Mora said. "The guy just was everything we thought he'd be when we drafted him."

While insisting he doesn't want to minimize Beck's predicament, Mora believes the coaching staff will find a capable replacement. Either Antoine Cash, John Leake or Michael Brown will win the job to be the primary backup to middle linebacker Ed Hartwell.

"You know, my philosophy on injuries is they happen," Mora said. "I feel bad for the kid, but we have to do what's best for us and move on."

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