FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Former Washington Husky Kaleb McGary is trying to jump back into the competition for a starting job on the Atlanta offensive line after missing almost four weeks.
There’s only one preseason game left for McGary to show he is ready for the regular season. Still, the rookie first-round draft choice has good reason to avoid rushing his return.
Having heart surgery, even a minimally invasive procedure, can do wonders for a player’s perspective.
“It’s not exactly my idea of a fun Wednesday night, you know?” McGary said after Monday’s practice. He made his first return to practice Sunday.
On July 31, McGary had a cardiac ablation procedure to correct a heart arrhythmia problem called ventricular tachycardia. He had two similar procedures in his playing career and sat out about six weeks after it was performed while he was playing at UW.
“It could have been a lot worse,” the 6-foot-8, 324-pound McGary said. “There’s not much to complain about. I’m happy with how things have gone and confident they did what they could to fix the problem. … Hopefully it’s gone for good this time.”
He was first stricken with the problem in high school.
“It was a bummer to have to deal with it again,” said McGary, a former Fife High School standout. “Of course, no one wants to have to go through heart surgery, whether it’s minor or not.”
Losing McGary for most of August has helped make Atlanta’s offensive line a work in progress.
At the portion of practice open to reporters on Monday, Matt Gono was at right tackle. Ty Sambrailo was competing with McGary for the starting job at right tackle before McGary’s medical problem resurfaced.
“It certainly set Kaleb back, missing the time that he did,” Atlanta coach Dan Quinn said.
The overhaul of the offensive line was the Falcons’ top offseason priority after Matt Ryan was sacked 42 times last season, the second-highest total of his career.
McGary might be able to play in Atlanta’s final preseason game, Thursday at Jacksonville.
“If he keeps hitting markers like he has, we think he’ll do it,” Quinn said.
McGary said he was out of shape after missing so much practice. Even so, he said it has been “awesome” to be back in practice less than one month after the procedure.
“I wouldn’t say it’s faster than I thought it would be,” he said of his medical clearance for contact drills. “I tried to really just keep my expectations low and just go by what the doctors say. I’m returning at the pace the doctors say I should return at and listening to what the team tells me to do. I’m just taking it as fast and slow as I’m told.”
• The Kansas City Chiefs lost backup quarterback Chad Henne to a broken ankle that will require surgery, and they signed 35-year-old Matt Moore to provide depth behind starter Patrick Mahomes.
• Arizona signed defensive lineman Clinton McDonald, 32, a former Seahawk who was with the Oakland Raiders last season.
• New England safety Patrick Chung, 32, waived a court appearance in New Hampshire on a cocaine-possession charge and a lawyer entered a not-guilty plea on his behalf. Chung is scheduled for a Nov. 8 court appearance.
• Former Seahawk Saousoalii “Junior” Siavii Jr., 40, of Independence, Mo., was charged in federal court with illegally possessing firearms after he was tasered twice while he struggled with police officers in Missouri and resisted arrest, according to prosecutors.
Siavii was charged with three counts of being an unlawful drug user in possession of firearms.
The defensive lineman played in 14 games for the Seahawks in 2010.
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