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Thursday, February 5, 2009
Atlanta offensive tackle Weiner retires

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

Weiner
What has been a very quiet offseason for the Atlanta Falcons so far, just got a little bit newsy. The team just sent out a press release announcing the retirement of offensive tackle Todd Weiner.

It may not seem like a big deal because Weiner was a pretty ordinary player for 11 seasons. But sometimes ordinary is good. Weiner joined the Falcons in 2002 and was with Seattle from 1998 through 2001.

He started 118 of 152 career games and did some of his best work last season. Although Weiner played through a knee problem, he was a crucial contributor and played a bigger role than the Falcons ever expected. Weiner was supposed to spend last season as a backup to rookie left tackle Sam Baker and right tackle Tyson Clabo.

But injuries forced Weiner to start 11 games and he helped the Falcons rush for 2,443 yards (second in the league) and the ground game scored a franchise-record 23 touchdowns. Weiner also helped the offensive line protect rookie quarterback Matt Ryan quite nicely. Atlanta allowed a franchise-low 17 sacks last season.

"Todd Weiner epitomizes toughness, grit and everything a championship caliber football player should be," said Falcons head coach Mike Smith. "As good of a player as Todd was for the Falcons, he was an even better person in our community through a variety of highly publicized charitable endeavors working with children. He will be sorely missed by our football team on and off the field, but one thing is for certain -- Todd will always be a Falcon."

This move isn't going to make or break the Falcons, but it does leave a void. Weiner gave Atlanta's offensive line a lot of depth and that's now something the Falcons will have to add in the offseason.