FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Starting left cornerback Asante Samuel will not play in Atlanta’s final preseason game against Jacksonville, Falcons head coach Mike Smith told FOXSportsSouth.com.
The cornerback, however, remains on track to play in Week 1 at New Orleans.
Samuel injured his thigh during the Falcons’ preseason loss to the Titans on Saturday, playing only four snaps, tied for the fewest among defensive players that night. Samuel, a four-time Pro Bowler, posted five interceptions last season.
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“We anticipate Asante will be back for the Saints game,” Smith said.
Without Samuel, the Falcons might start two rookie cornerbacks, first-round pick Desmond Trufant on the right and second-rounder Robert Alford on the left. The latter struggled in a big way against the Titans, but Smith defended Alford on Monday, saying some plays that appeared to be his fault were actually missed assignments by other Falcons.
“I think Robert, as I said after the game, he got put into a situation where he was put into the game in the second or third play of the ballgame, it was a great learning experience for him,” Smith said. “But he did some things that were positives but there were some things we’ve got to correct.”
Smith said those mistakes were both physical and mental. As such, Smith said Alford was not completely free of blame.
“Robert’s going to have to play better,” Smith said. “He’s a young guy we’re counting on but I think it was a great learning experience for him and it will pay dividends down the road.”
Smith also said Roddy White, who has yet to practice since spraining his ankle against the Ravens on Aug. 17, is on schedule to play against the Saints, along with kicker Matt Bryant (back), who did not suit up on Saturday.
Also, defensive tackle Peria Jerry received X-rays on his jaw on Saturday but was back practicing on Monday.