Falcons' Crumpler had surgery, will be limited in camp

Updated: July 12, 2006, 11:45 AM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

ATLANTA -- Three-time Pro Bowl tight end Alge Crumpler, the Atlanta Falcons' leading receiver in each of the past two seasons, could be limited in training camp and the preseason as he continues to recover from offseason shoulder surgery.

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The surgery, to repair damage to the labrum and the rotator cuff in Crumpler's right shoulder, was first reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday afternoon. Although the procedure was performed in late February after Crumpler returned from the Pro Bowl game, it was never announced by the Falcons, until general manager Rich McKay confirmed it on Tuesday.

Crumpler also underwent arthroscopic knee surgery just after the 2005 season, and that operation had been acknowledged by Atlanta officials.

"I don't see there being any problem [with Crumpler's recovery]," McKay said. "I'm sure we'll bring him along at the right pace. We'll watch him, but he'll be OK."

The Falcons' first training camp practice is scheduled for the afternoon of July 27.

Crumpler, 28, missed much of the offseason program and did not participate in the Falcons' mandatory minicamp last month. His inactivity was attributed at the time to his ongoing recovery from knee surgery and team officials put a positive spin on it, noting that not having Crumpler on the field meant quarterback Michael Vick could spent more time throwing to his young wide receivers.

A five-year veteran, Crumpler is coming off his most productive season from a statistical standpoint. The former North Carolina star established new career bests in 2005 with 65 receptions and 877 yards, while scoring five touchdowns. Despite recurring knee problems that forced him to curtail his practice schedule, Crumpler started all 16 games in 2005.

Crumpler was a second-round choice in the 2001 draft and has 218 career catches for 2,988 yards and 22 touchdowns. Over the last three seasons in particular, when Vick has been healthy, Crumpler served as a safety net of sorts for the Atlanta quarterback. There is little doubt that Crumpler is the receiver in whom Vick has the most confidence, and he often turns to him in tough spots.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.