Lamar Holmes Has to Step Up for Atlanta in Mike Johnson's Absence
Lamar Holmes will finally get his chance to shine. Mike Johnson—Atlanta Falcons projected starting right tackle—went down with what looks to be a season ending injury in practice, according to John Manasso of Fox Sports South.
On 1st play of 11 on 11s Mike Johnson gets hurt, on lots of pain. #Falcons— John Manasso (@jmanasso) August 6, 2013
And it was later revealed to be a broken tibia with a dislocated ankle, as reported by Atlanta Falcons.com's Jay Adams.
Tough news for everyone as Mike Johnson is slated to have surgery for a dislocated ankle and fractured tibia. Get well soon, Mike. #aftc13— Jay Adams (@FalconsJAdams) August 7, 2013
He hasn't been placed on injured reserve yet—and I'm no doctor—but it looks inevitable that he will be.
Now, it's time for Holmes to be the man for the job and step up into some large shoes that Tyson Clabo was forced to vacate. He has the physical tools. He has experience on both sides of the offensive line.
But it's time for him to be the man who helps create opportunities on the right side of the line for Steven Jackson. It's time for him to protect Matt Ryan's sight-side. And most of all, it's time for him to jump in and be a franchise-caliber right tackle starting today.
Next Man Up
In order for Holmes to show that he's worth the third-round pick that the Falcons spent on him in the 2012 NFL draft, he's going to have to abide by the "next man up" philosophies employed around the league.
The philosophy is simple. A man goes down. The man behind him steps up and seizes the opportunity to be the long-term star there. Atlanta needs this to happen. Otherwise, Matt Ryan will be eating a lot of turf in 2013.
And for a team that is trying to host its second NFC Championship Game, Ryan eating turf isn't going to be helpful. They'll also have to open lanes for new running back Steven Jackson.
Holmes has the girth, footwork and raw abilities to be better than Tyson Clabo was. He just has to harness all of these abilities and execute them now instead of later.
Holmes has the drive to do it
Just after being drafted, Lamar Holmes sat down with D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was quoted as saying:
I feel like I can come in there and be a contributor from day one, because I’m going to work and whoever’s across from me, I’m going to make them work hard every day, all day.
Now, Holmes wasn't a contributor on day one. He was a backup. He was looking to compete for the starting job with Mike Johnson this season, but it looked like he was losing that battle as Johnson was listed as the first-team right tackle on the team's unofficial depth chart.
His willingness to work for everything he has will make him the right man for the job. He's going to go through some growing pains. That should be expected.
But if he can continue to keep his nose to the grindstone, there's no reason that Holmes can't step up and be a good right tackle for the Falcons.
All stats used are either from Pro Football Focus's Premium Stats, ESPN, CFBStats or the NFL. All contract information is courtesy Spotrac. All recruiting rankings come from 247Sports.com.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, NFL and NFL Draft. He also runs DraftFalcons.com.
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