I'm not saying the loss of Leonard Hankerson caused the Falcons' offense to go into the toilet over the last few weeks, but I would say the team has sorely missed his speed and route-running opposite Julio Jones.
The good news is that Hankerson seems very likely to return this week, as he returned to the practice field in limited fashion on Monday. He missed much of the second half of the Washington game with a rib injury, got back on the field in Week 6 but suffered a hamstring tweak, and then left the Week 7 win over the Tennessee Titans with an aggravation of that same hamstring injury. We haven't seen him on the field since, but he'll have now had a month to recover from the ailment, and Atlanta hasn't given us any indication that this is the kind of hamstring injury that's going to cost him the rest of the season.
Hankerson's production has been a mixed bag in 2015 even when he's been healthy, but Kyle Shanahan and Matt Ryan like to get him involved, and he appears to be the only receiver who gets consistent looks when Julio Jones is buried under a pile of six defenders. He has 22 catches for 291 yards and two touchdowns on the year.
We're all praying for a better offense coming out of the bye, and with any luck, Hankerson's return will key something in the passing game, at the very least.