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Falcons searching for healthy quarterback

POSTED: October 28, 2007 5:07 a.m.
FLOWERY BRANCH — Atlanta Falcons quarterback Byron Leftwich underwent surgery on his right ankle Wednesday and will be out three to four weeks, giving Joey Harrington another chance as the starter.

In his first start for the Falcons, Leftwich sustained a high ankle sprain against New Orleans in a 22-16 loss Sunday.

The surgical procedure will help speed the recovery process, coach Bobby Petrino said.

"He had a procedure done this morning that is a very aggressive procedure," Petrino said after practice. "They actually go in and put a couple screws in there and it helps it heal faster."

Offensive tackle Todd Weiner underwent the same operation a couple of weeks ago.

"A lot of hockey players are doing it now," Petrino said. "It’s supposed to increase the healing and hopefully he’ll be back in three to four weeks. He says two, but the doctors say three to four."

The Falcons (1-6) are off this week. Leftwich is likely to miss at least three games but could return for a Thanksgiving night contest against Indianapolis.

"He wanted to get back on the field as quick as he can," Petrino said. "This is a new, aggressive procedure that has worked very well."

In the meantime, Harrington reclaims his job as the No. 1 quarterback. He started Atlanta’s first six games and took over against the Saints when Leftwich was hurt on the first series of the second half.

Chris Redman is the only other quarterback on the roster. Petrino said Warrick Dunn would serve as the emergency quarterback while Leftwich recovers.

"We would go back to the old single wing," Petrino quipped. "That wouldn’t be a lot of fun."

Harrington, who already lost starting jobs in Detroit and Miami, gets another opportunity to score points with a coaching staff that had planned to go with Leftwich the rest of the season.

"It’s not going to change how I get ready during the week," Harrington said. "But it does change the mentality on game day. There’s no getting around that."



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