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


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."


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.