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NFL: Falcons place Nissley on IR
South grad retained after clearing waivers
sports-nissley3websmall JP
Atlanta Falcons tight end Adam Nissley tore two knee ligaments in the preseason opener. - photo by Jared Putnam

Former South Forsyth standout Adam Nissley has been placed on injured reserve by the Atlanta Falcons after clearing waivers.

Nissley, a 6-foot-6, 267-pound tight end out of Central Florida, was placed on the waived-injured list by the team after he tore the ACL and MCL in his left knee during the preseason opener against the Baltimore Ravens on Aug. 9 in Atlanta.

Because no other team claimed Nissley during the first 24 hours of his release, his rights returned to the Falcons.

The Falcons would have forfeited a roster spot if they had placed Nissley directly on IR without waiving him first.

"My agent sat down with me [and said], ‘This is not a bad thing,’" Nissley said.

"‘They’re going to heal you, get you well and then they’re going to give you a shot next year. Now we just have to focus on getting better.

"‘Next year will come."

Nissley, who was signed by the team as an undrafted free agent in April, said he must wait for his MCL to heal — a process that typically takes at least 4-5 weeks — before doctors can perform surgery to repair his ACL.

Nissley’s recovery from ACL surgery is expected to take an additional 6-8 months. He’ll spend much of that time rehabbing his knee at a team-owned facility and receiving monthly check-ups.

"If you do the math, it puts me back on the field right around April of next year, and that’s the time for OTAs [organized team activities] and minicamp to start," Nissley said.

"It was an awesome experience being out there for one game — that’s a lot more than a lot of people get to experience in a lifetime. I’m grateful to have the one game, but I’m still looking forward to recovery [and giving it another shot]."

Nissley was one of two Falcons rookies to suffer season-ending knee injuries in the team’s 31-17 loss to the Ravens. Fullback Bradie Ewing, a fifth-round pick out of Wisconsin, tore his right ACL earlier in the game.

Nissley’s injury occurred when he made a 16-yard catch in the fourth quarter. Prior to the play, he had never missed a game — or even a practice — due to injury.

"When I planted on my left foot to turn up-field I felt a hit from the outside of my knee and it just pushed it inward," Nissley said. "You feel the tendons tear, and that’s when I knew it was going to be a bad injury.

"It’s kind of [like going from] the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. I was in the middle of the first series of [my first NFL] game, and it was just kind of an adrenalin rush ... playing in the [Georgia Dome] and taking it all in.

"It sucks that my first NFL career catch was also a season-ending injury."

Nissley was in a heated battle with three other players for the third and final tight end spot on the Falcons’ 53-man roster behind Tony Gonzalez and Michael Palmer. Nissley said he felt "great" about his chances of making the final cut prior to the injury.

"I was actually just getting to the point of camp where everything started clicking and I started getting comfortable within myself and my abilities," Nissley said.

"I started going out there and playing more fluidly and making good plays and progressing with the playbook. That third tight end spot was up for grabs ... and I thought I was going to be the one to take that spot, [but] it just turned out a little differently."