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Falcons center Alex Mack to play with leg fracture in Super Bowl, per report

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NFL: NFC Championship-Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports much could an injured “center” really impact the Super Bowl outcome?

When that center is Alex Mack and the offensive coordinator is Kyle Shanahan, Cleveland Browns fans are experts in just how much it can take your team from the division favorite to straight back to the basement of the division. You can go from having one of the best running games in the NFL to one of the worst. And now, the Atlanta Falcons are bracing themselves to face a similar test on the grandest stage of them all: Super Bowl LI.

We’ve heard during the week that Mack has been battling an ankle/leg injury, but early Sunday morning, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Mack will play with a fracture in his left leg.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cleveland Browns
Mack’s leg injury in 2014 likely cost Cleveland a shot at the playoffs.
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

It’s the same leg that Mack broke with the Browns back in 2014. Although he returned in 2015, he was not back to his Pro Bowl form until 2016 with Atlanta.

Mack will try to play through the fracture, and we all know just how tough of a player he is. In 2011, he had his appendix removed during the season and ended up playing the next game. Toughness is one thing, but Mack won’t be able to do anything about whatever limitations he may have, and the Patriots’ defensive line will know that.

If necessary, the Falcons might have to turn to backup guard Ben Garland to fill in for Mack. Garland, an undrafted free agent in 2010, is in his second season with the Falcons but has never started a game. He actually played at defensive tackle this postseason, registering a safety on the SeahawksRussell Wilson.