Falcons WR availability looms large vs. Giants
The Atlanta Falcons will face a shorthanded secondary on Sunday when they host the New York Giants at the Georgia Dome in a game freighted with meaning for the NFC playoff race, but the Falcons themselves have some injury questions about their receivers.
Falcons wide receiver Roddy White (knee), whose 1,140 receiving yards leads the team, is listed as questionable, as is No. 3 wide receiver Harry Douglas (ribs).
Earlier this week, Falcons head coach Mike Smith said White, who has never missed a game in his eight seasons, could be a game-time decision. Kevin Cone and Drew Davis would move up the depth chart if White and Douglas cannot go for the 11-2 Falcons, who are looking to clinch home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, and for revenge as the Giants eliminated them from the playoffs last January 24-2.
In addition for the Falcons, safety William Moore, who has not practiced since injuring his hamstring on Nov. 29, is also listed as questionable. Moore was inactive last Sunday in a 30-20 loss to Carolina. Defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux (ribs) was the fourth Falcon listed as questionable, which means the player has a 50/50 chance of playing.
On Friday, the Giants ruled out starting right cornerback Prince Amukamara (hamstring) and safety Kenny Phillips (knee), who has started five of the six games he has played this season. The Giants (8-5), who hold a one-game lead over Dallas and Washington for the NFC East lead, have the NFL’s 27th-ranked pass defense. The Falcons, who have the league’s No. 4 passing offense but who have struggled lately in that department, already have clinched the NFC South.
On the Giants’ depth chart, Justin Tryon is listed as Amukamara’s backup as the right cornerback. However, it seems more likely that the player the Giants list as the backup corner on the left side, Jayron Hosley, would take over for Amukamara. Hosley, a rookie out of Virginia Tech, played 18 snaps (25 percent) on defense last week against New Orleans. Selected in the third round (94th overall), Hosley has started four of the 10 games he has played. He has four passes defended and one interception.
Tryon, 28, is on the small side at 5-foot-9, 180 pounds. He has played in all 13 games but the fact that he has only 14 tackles would indicate that most of those snaps would have come on special teams. Tryon did not play any snaps on defense last week against New Orleans.
The Giants have used a defense with three safeties at times this season: Phillips, veteran Antrel Rolle and Stevie Brown. Brown, a third-year player out of Michigan, has had a breakout season with two forced fumbles, seven interceptions and eight passes defended in starting nine of 13 games.
The Giants also ruled out starting running back Ahmad Bradshaw (knee/foot). That means rookie David Wilson, who rushed for 100 yards on 13 carries last week, including a 52-yard run, will take his place. Wilson also had a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
On the positive side for the Falcons, starting left cornerback Asante Samuel (shoulder) could return to play, as he participated fully in practice for the first time this week on Friday. Samuel was active last Sunday, as the Falcons wanted him on an emergency basis, but the four-time Pro-Bowler did not play. He is listed as probable.
Giants safety Tyler Sash (hamstring) also has been ruled out. In Sash’s last game in Week 12 against Green Bay, Sash played 25 percent of the snaps on defense and 75 percent on special teams.
Giants linebacker Michael Boley (back), the former Falcon, is listed as questionable. Boley could be a key to defending Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez in the passing game.
Falcons left tackle Sam Baker (hand) and left guard Justin Blalock (elbow) were listed as probable. Both participated in practice fully on Friday.