Falcons could have Matt Ryan back this week
Mike Smith had more injured than healthy offensive starters by
the end of the Atlanta Falcons’ third loss in their last four
That was only part of the somber news.
The Falcons’ 34-7 loss to Philadelphia on Sunday was the team’s
worst in Smith’s two years as coach. The loss left the 6-6 Falcons
on the fringe of the NFC wild-card chase.
More reason for concern: Just when the Falcons can’t afford
another loss, the 12-0 New Orleans Saints come to Atlanta next
Perhaps intent on countering the somber mood, Smith assumed an
upbeat tone on Monday.
Smith dismissed the lopsided loss to the Eagles as an
“anomaly.” He insisted his team’s season is not over, and he said
he hopes quarterback Matt Ryan and other injured starters can
return this week.
“Guys, again, the sky is not falling, OK?” Smith told
Ryan wore street clothes and protected his turf toe injury by
wearing a walking boot on the sideline on Sunday. The boot sat
empty at Ryan’s locker on Monday.
Ryan wasn’t available for interviews. Smith said he hopes Ryan,
who hurt his right big toe two weeks ago, will participate in the
team’s first practice of the week on Wednesday.
“Of course we’re encouraged because we’re going to get a chance
to see Matt out there on Wednesday,” Smith said.
When asked again about Ryan, Smith was less firm when he said
“We’re hoping to see where he’s at on Wednesday. If he can come
out and participate, then he’s going to come out and
Smith said the team’s medical staff was encouraged by Ryan’s
progress last week.
Backup Chris Redman threw two interceptions, including one
returned for a touchdown, in his first start since 2007.
The Falcons began the game without five offensive starters:
Ryan, running back Michael Turner, receiver Michael Jenkins and
offensive linemen Sam Baker and Harvey Dahl. Center Todd McClure,
who left the game with a right knee injury, was the sixth starter
The defense took a hit when cornerback Chris Houston left the
game with a hamstring injury.
“We’ve got an injury list right now that is pretty long,”
Turner offered a quick update on Monday, saying only “I’m
The Falcons have only four games remaining to climb back into
the NFC wild-card playoff picture.
When asked how the offense and the team can recover from the
loss to the Eagles, receiver Roddy White didn’t have a quick
“Oh man, I don’t know,” White said on Monday. “That was a
tough loss for us. We’ve just got to get everybody together and
keep practicing and go out there and try to fight our way to a
victory. Man, hopefully we get some of our guys back this week and
get everything back together and try to win us a game.”
Smith said he told his players to wipe away the loss like water
off a windshield.
“I think it’s an anomaly the way we played yesterday,” Smith
said. “That s how I look at it and as I told the guys when we
finished our meetings today, I wanted them to be kind of like a
windshield wiper and just kind of wash that game right out of their
mindset. We needed to move on and put that behind us as quickly as
possible so we can get ready for New Orleans.”
Smith demonstrated by moving his arm like a windshield
White, who caught a touchdown pass from Redman on the final play
for the Falcons’ only score, said it may not be so easy to move
past the loss to the Eagles.
“It was tough,” White said. “I can’t recall the last time we
got beat like that, so soundly. They did a good job. They came in
here with a great game plan and they executed their game plan and