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Falcons defensive line takes another hit as DT Street ruled out for Week 15

Kentavius Street Atlanta Falcons Kentavius Street - The Canadian Press

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — Atlanta defensive tackle Kentavius Street will not play in Sunday’s game at Carolina as the Falcons, battling for the lead in the jumbled NFC South, face significant injuries on both lines.

Street left last week's 29-25 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a pectoral injury. Coach Arthur Smith said Wednesday he is awaiting word on Street's status for the remainder of the season.

The defensive line already has lost two-time Pro Bowler Grady Jarrett to a season-ending knee injury. Another key starter on the defensive front, David Onyemata (ankle), did not play against Tampa Bay.

The Falcons' offensive line is facing similarly stressful injury problems. Only two healthy starters made it to the end of the loss to the Buccaneers. Left tackle Jake Matthews left in the first half with a knee injury, putting his team-record streak of 156 consecutive starts in jeopardy against Carolina.

Center Drew Dalman (ankle) and right tackle Kaleb McGary (knee) did not play against Tampa Bay and Chris Lindstrom (ankle) missed part of the game.

Atlanta's lengthy injury list also includes cornerback Jeff Okudah (ankle) and linebacker Nate Landman (knee).

Matthews, Lindstrom and McGary were held out of Wednesday's practice. Smith says most injured players have a chance to play on Sunday.

“That’s where we are this late in the year,” Smith said of the lengthy injury list. “And thankfully, most of the guys have a legitimate shot to play.”

Smith said he expects to “have a clear picture by Friday, for sure.”

The Falcons (6-7) failed to capitalize on an opportunity to retain sole possession of first place in the division. With the loss to Tampa Bay, Atlanta is tied with the Buccaneers and New Orleans for the division lead. A loss to the last-place Panthers (1-12) could be devastating to the Falcons' hopes of returning to the playoffs for the first time since 2017.

Smith and quarterback Desmond Ridder were encouraged by the play of backups on the depleted offensive line last week.

Center Ryan Neuzil made his second career start, right tackle Storm Norton made his first start of the season and tackle Tyler Vrabel, the son of Tennessee Titans coach Mike Vrabel, appeared in his first NFL game one day after being promoted from the practice squad.

“Credit to all those guys in that room because they work their butts off no matter where they started at the beginning of this year to where they are now,” Ridder said Wednesday. "They’re a testament to the hard work that they put in because, you know, it was like a smooth transition. They kept me clean and did a good job.”

Ridder completed 26 of 40 passes for a career-best 347 yards with one touchdown and an interception. He added a 6-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter.