Falcons expect Leftwich to return in 3-to-4 weeks

Updated: October 24, 2007, 9:18 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Byron Leftwich


FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons quarterback Byron Leftwich underwent surgery on his right ankle Wednesday and will be out three to four weeks.

In his first game as the Falcons starter, Leftwich sustained a high ankle sprain against New Orleans on 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."

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ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported that according to a source, Falcons team doctor Scott Gillogly, who performed the surgery, convinced Leftwich that similar operations he has performed on Atlanta Thrashers hockey players had hastened their recovery within a two-week time frame.

Leftwich sought a second opinion on Tuesday from Dr. James Andrews of Birmingham, Ala., before he agreed to the procedure. Leftwich does not have a fracture but there was significant separation of his ligaments that warranted the surgery, a source with knowledge of the diagnosis told ESPN.

Offensive tackle Todd Weiner underwent the same procedure 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, Joey 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.

Leftwich signed with the Falcons Sept. 19 after being released by the Jacksonville Jaguars, who went with David Garrard as the starting quarterback after four seasons with Leftwich under center.

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

ESPN NFL reporter Chris Mortensen and The Associated Press contributed to this report.