Kevin C. Cox
Stephen Nicholas has been hindered recently by an ankle issue, keeping him strictly on special teams against the Raiders in Week 6. It looks like he's back now, and we should expect to see plenty of him this weekend up in Philadelphia.
Mike Smith commented on Nicholas' injury, noting the fact that Akeem Dent saw extensive time out of his regular element with Nicholas on the sidelines. "I thought it was a good experience for Akeem. Akeem's experience up to this point has been in the base defense, so it's the first time he had played in the sub," said Smith. "He played in every snap in the ball game and every snap that he gets is not only beneficial for him, but beneficial for us."
While Smith is right on Dent, we all know it will be nice to see Nicholas back on the field regularly. "We probably could've played Stephen (Nicholas) in that ball game. Stephen played special teams, but we wanted to hold him out," Smitty said. "He wasn't 100 percent. It was a coaching decision to hold him out and get him healthy. He was back full speed today (Monday)."
Full speed, that's what you want to hear. As we continue to hear about the Falcons issues facing the run, Nicholas' return will assuredly improve their chances against opposing runners. According to Pro Football Focus, Nicholas is ranked as the third-best defender against the run, receiving a 3.6 rating in 133 snaps facing a rushing play.
"He helps us and it's another experienced guy now that we can play in our packages that he can line up and play the backer position," said Smith when talking about Nicholas helping the run game. "We moved him inside and made Sean play the position he played last year, so there were a couple of moving parts in the game against Oakland in our sub package."
We'll see what the official injury report says tomorrow, but for now we can expect him back at his normal spot against the Eagles.