Injury to Weiner leaves Falcons with first-time starters at tackle

Updated: October 11, 2007, 6:26 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

ATLANTA - An Atlanta Falcons offense that is already struggling will face the New York Giants' fierce pass rush on Monday night with a pair of new starting tackles.

Todd Weiner

Weiner

The Falcons said Wednesday that starting right tackle Todd Weiner, who has missed only one game since signing with Atlanta as an unrestricted free agent in 2002, will be sidelined for 2-to-6 weeks after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.

"We're hoping he's back in the earlier time slot," coach Bobby Petrino said.

The loss of Weiner comes in the wake of the season-ending knee injury to starting left tackle Wayne Gandy, and leaves the Falcons perilously thin at tackle. Gandy sustained a torn left anterior cruciate ligament in last Sunday's loss at Tennessee, and has been placed on injured reserve for the rest of the year.

Weiner, a solid 10th-year veteran who started all five games in 2007, has been experiencing problems with his right knee, and an MRI earlier this week indicated the need for surgery to address a cartilage problem.

That means the Falcons will host the Giants on Monday with a pair of players who have never started a regular-season game at tackle.

Rookie Renardo Foster, an undrafted college free agent who played for coach Bobby Petrino at Louisville, will get his first-ever NFL start. Foster has played in all five games this season as a backup and replaced Gandy on Sunday after his injury. The right tackle will be Tyson Clabo, a second-year veteran whose resume includes 10 starts, all of them at guard.

The two youngsters will be confronted by the Giants' pass rush tandem of Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora, and a New York defense that is tied for the league lead in sacks through five games, with 17.

Umenyiora, who has an NFL-best seven sacks, including six in one memorable game against the Philadelphia Eagles two weeks ago, will line up against the relatively untested Foster. Clabo will draw the assignment of blocking Strahan, who has just one sack this season, but has 133½ for his career.

Atlanta has surrendered 18 sacks, the third most in the league.

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