There may not be a Falcons player with greater hope for a breakout 2018 campaign than McKinley, who showed flashes of brilliance during his rookie season out of UCLA. The 22-year-old McKinley picked up one sack for every 66.8 snaps during the regular season (6 sacks on 401 defensive plays), establishing a pace which rivals some of the league's most ferocious pass rushers. Arizona's Chandler Jones averaged one sack every 61.5 defensive snaps in 2017, while Cameron Jordan of New Orleans averaged 76.2 defensive plays per sack. Head coach Dan Quinn stated last week that so long as his recovery from February shoulder continues to go smoothly, McKinley will be fully recuperated in time for Falcons training camp in July. The second-year man has a strong probability of accumulating 10-plus sacks in 2018, as he is likely to be slotted in as one of the team's starting defensive ends.
According to his personal Twitter account, McKinley (shoulder) underwent successful shoulder surgery Thursday.
It's the second year in a row McKinley has undergone shoulder surgery, as he will now focus on returning to full strength in time for the offseason program. McKinley played 401 defensive snaps across 16 regular season games in 2017.
The nature of the procedure is unknown, but McKinley underwent shoulder surgery last March in the midst of the pre-draft process. The Falcons' subsequent first-round selection, he proceeded to play in every game as a rookie, playing 38 percent of the defensive snaps en route to the second-most sacks (six) on the team. Because he's taking care of the issue in early February, he likely will be fine by the time the offseason program starts in mid-April.
McKinley recorded 20 tackles (15 solo), six sacks, two forced fumbles and one pass defensed across 16 games in 2017.
The rookie made his presence felt throughout the season on Atlanta's defense, recording the second-most sacks on the team. Like any rookie, there is room to grow for McKinley, as he will use a full offseason to get better accustomed to Atlanta's schemes. The Falcons boast a ton of talent at defensive end, with Adrian Clayborn serving as the only free agent this offseason. Still, McKinley could be due for an expanded role in his sophomore campaign.
McKinley (shoulder) will play in Sunday's preseason game against the Steelers, D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
McKinley has slowly increased his practice reps and is apparently ready to go for the Falcons' second preseason game Sunday. The Falcons' 2017 first-round pick is expected to shore up their defensive front, and could possibly push for a starting role.
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