We're getting all our wounded ducks in a row now.
Peria Jerry is finally back, ready to start and hopefully wreck a few Dolphins on his way. Up to this point, the Falcons have "enjoyed" a pre-season that's been marred by injuries and deliciously vanilla scheming, which is about what you should probably expect from a team as secretive as the Falcons. But while plain schemes and ineffective play during pre-season are something we have to live with, injuries are still evil. It's good to have our starting defensive line—John Abraham, Jonathan Babineaux, Jerry and Kroy Biermann/Jamaal Anderson—together again.
Oh, and in that same article from D. Orlando Ledbetter, we find out Jerious Norwood is coming back. So the Falcons are really getting healthy right around the right time.
So what should you expect from Jerry and Norwood come tomorrow night?
Mike Smith is dialing down immediate expectations, as is his wont:
"It'll be an opportunity for us to evaluate what Peria is.....This will be his first really full-speed action. He's worked extremely hard to get back into this position."
For my part, I find it hard to believe that Jerry could be anything less than 95% with his long recovery time and the caution the team has shown with him. What's less clear is how rusty he'll be after nearly a year away from the game, and with him starting, we should get a chance to find out very quickly.
Ideally, when healthy, Jerry offers us the Babineaux skillset of a penetrating defensive tackle with some run-stopping skills, but to a lesser degree than Babs. With time and experience, he could become something truly special, but all we need right now is for him to be good. I don't doubt he can do that, as long as he can stay on the field.
My expectations for Norwood are more muted. I recognize that last season was really his first one with major injury issues, but he's muddled through pre-season thus far and I am concerned he's not going to hold up to a pounding. We need him this year to take pressure off Turner and give defenses a different look, so expect the team to ease him in against the Dolphins so as not to aggravate anything.