Falcons TE Kyle Pitts has knee surgery, ending 2022 season

Kyle Pitts' season has come to an end much earlier than he wanted it to. The Atlanta Falcons tight end had knee surgery on Tuesday and has been ruled out for the remainder of the 2022 season. Head coach Arthur Smith made the announcement on Wednesday, and Pitts posted a picture of his bandaged leg on Instagram the night before.

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Pitts took a shoulder directly to his knee against the Chicago Bears in Week 11 and had to leave the game early. He went on injured reserve the next day after an MRI reportedly showed he'd torn his MCL.

Pitts, who was taken fourth overall in the 2021 draft, had a breakout rookie season catching 68 passes on 110 targets for 1,026 yards and one touchdown. He broke records (including one Mike Ditka set in 1961, when he was the last tight end to record over 1,000 receiving yards in a season) and got an invite to the Pro Bowl. But he wasn't able to replicate that in 2022. He caught 28 passes on 59 targets for 356 yards with two touchdowns in 10 games. And in those 10 games, he had more than 30 receiving yards just three times.

Some of that dip is likely due to the change in quarterback from Matt Ryan in 2021 to Marcus Mariota in 2022, which has led to a change in offensive style. Mariota doesn't have Ryan's arm so the Falcons have been passing less, leading to fewer opportunities for Pitts. And beyond that, Pitts has been dealing with a hamstring issue that's slowed him down and forced him to miss a game in October.

Smith said that Pitts' injury shouldn't be an issue in 2023. By then, he should be fully healed up and ready for a fresh start.

Atlanta Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts (8) runs after a catch during an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022 in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts had season-ending knee surgery on Tuesday, but should be good to go for 2023. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)