The Falcons haven’t been truly healthy in weeks, and while they still won’t be for Saturday’s Christmas Eve tilt with the Panthers, they’ll be as close to full strength as is possible this late in the season.
Falcons coach Dan Quinn said Julio Jones (toe) will play Saturday. https://t.co/iaxeZje2cH pic.twitter.com/HOEthpRdrc— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) December 22, 2016
While the Falcons will be without De’Vondre Campbell (who has a concussion) and Austin Hooper (who has a leg injury), they’ll get back Julio Jones, Adrian Clayborn, and Jalen Collins, giving both sides of the ball genuine boosts. With how important this win is for the Falcons, who can effectively lock up a playoff spot with a victory, it’s good to have these guys back.
Collins and Jones had been missing in action for a couple of weeks each, and the Falcons were wise to rest them with games against the 49ers and Rams on the docket. Julio torched the Panthers last time out, while Collins will help contain a fairly unimpressive set of Panthers receivers. Greg Olsen, intriguingly, may be out, which would make life easier for this defense.
Finally, there’s Clayborn. He has been out a long time, but the Falcons will be glad to get him back, and will have him playing defensive tackle on obvious passing downs and defensive ends on early downs. He should immediately boost the defense, which has particularly struggled to get much production out of the interior of their defensive line.
With Hooper out, Levine Toilolo and Josh Perkins will get a lot of run at tight end, with Toilolo likely playing the plurality of snaps. With Campbell out, expect to Paul Worrilow back in action as a full-time player.
Welcome back Julio, Clayborn, and Collins!