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Julio Jones returns to practice, Andy Levitre questionable for Sunday

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New Orleans Saints v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

The NFL season is a grind. Even the most healthy, well-rested football teams are dealing with plenty of injuries this late in the season, and in some cases those losses are genuinely catastrophic. The Eagles, for example, are without quarterback Carson Wentz, which takes them from Super Bowl favorites in the NFC to Super Bowl aspirants with some question marks. Injuries suck, but they are a part of life.

The Falcons have in recent years made significant investments in everything from biometrics to nutrition, and those efforts haven’t always resulted in fewer injuries. Whether that work is paying off or the Falcons are just lucky is up for debate, but either way, they head into their Week 16 matchup with the Saints about as healthy as you could possibly expect them to be.

Start with Julio Jones, who didn’t practice Wednesday or Thursday but returned to practice Friday, drawing his typical rave reviews from Dan Quinn. Julio’s locked and loaded against a Saints secondary that is banged up, to put it mildly.

Then move to Tevin Coleman, who returns from a week-long layoff spent in the NFL’s concussion protocol. That gives Atlanta their healthy, extremely talented 1-2 punch back, which comes at an excellent time given that they’re playing the other team with a healthy, extremely talented 1-2 punch in the Saints.

Then move on to Andy Levitre, who sounded like he might not even return this season until this week, and is now simply listed as questionable for Sunday. Ben Garland may get one more start if he’s not ready to go, but it looks like the team’s starting left guard will be back before the end of the season, after all.

The Falcons are about as close to full strength as you can possibly be right now for this matchup, which bodes well for their chances on the road. May they stay healthy and win this game, giving us a nice early Christmas present.