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Duke Riley returns to practice Thursday, could suit up against the Seahawks

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The rookie could be close to a return.

Atlanta Falcons v Chicago Bears Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

After missing a few weeks with an injury, Duke Riley is back on the practice field, and may be ready to return to game action on Monday night against the Seahawks.

Riley was essentially a starter from the get-go for the Falcons, and while we saw glimpses of the speed and athletic ability that promise to make him dangerous someday, he was a bit of a missed tackle machine in the early going. I thought he was off to a fine start against the Patriots before his injury, however, and hopefully will be able to build on his campaign here in the last seven weeks.

The Falcons haven’t exactly missed Riley’s play—the defense has arguably gotten better since he was injured—but they’ll be excited to get him back. The speedy rookie figures to be a major part of the linebacker corps sooner than later, though he’ll need to fix his early, persistent issues with missed tackles if that day is going to come soon. If he’s truly healthy, I’d expect him to settle in to a part-time role and coming on to the field when the Falcons utilize three linebackers and kick Vic Beasley to end, and so forth. He could also get some play on special teams, where the Falcons can always use more speed.

Regardless of where and how much he plays, Riley remains an interesting long-term prospect at the position for the Falcons, and I wouldn’t bet against Dan Quinn throwing him right back into the fire. We’ll see how the team does divvy up snaps for Riley and others once he’s back in action.