I'll preface this by noting that the Saints quite simply outplayed the Falcons, and were dealing with injuries of their own. I don't want to make excuses following the first game of the season, because the Falcons just simply lost.
Still, you can't help but recognize the impact the Falcons' injuries had throughout this game. Roddy White was basically in there as a decoy, reeling in two catches for 19 yards, and it appears the Falcons were once again creating a smokescreen around an injury. With poor line play, Tony Gonzalez looking just a hair less effective than usual and a ground game that was off and on, the Falcons really could have used a fully healthy White to open up the passing attack even more.
Asante Samuel being out hurt less than expected, because Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford really stepped up in coverage. The rookies were incredibly impressive, but it would have been nice to have the cagey veteran out there nonetheless.
Even Stephen Nicholas was clearly limited in his time on the field, though he didn't stand out for good or ill. Out of the injured players coming into the week, only Peria Jerry (one sack) and Matt Bryant (money kicking) were truly effective.
Ultimately, the Falcons lost more on mistakes and a lack of execution than missing players. It is a reminder that the Falcons can struggle when not at full strength, particularly missing Roddy White.
Stay tuned for injury updates throughout the week.