The Falcons got a little banged up in Week 13’s rematch against the Saints, with multiple players leaving the game with injury. We’ve been waiting to see which players might wind up missing time, and which might be able to return to play for Sunday’s tilt with the Chargers. After Thursday’s injury report, Atlanta had a whopping 14 players listed on the injury report in some fashion.
We still haven’t received Friday’s injury report—and likely won’t until this afternoon—but Falcons interim head coach Raheem Morris did provide an update on the status of two of the biggest names listed. First off, WR Julio Jones—who DNP on Wednesday or Thursday due to a nagging hamstring injury—has been declared out of the game. Morris also seemed to suggest that a trip to IR might be a possibility for Jones in the near future.
Second, the Falcons are planning to have RB Todd Gurley back in the lineup and taking on a “normal role”. Gurley managed to return to the field in Week 13 after missing time with a knee injury, but took very few carries and generally looked less than healthy. We should expect Gurley to return to his previous role of 10-15 carries and a lot of work near the endzone.
Raheem Morris said Todd Gurley is healthy this week and they are fully expecting to have him back in his normal role this Sunday.— Tori McElhaney (@tori_mcelhaney) December 11, 2020
Obviously, the loss of Julio Jones is a massive one for the Falcons. Atlanta simply isn’t the same offense without him on the field, and a unit which has been bad at scoring in the red zone becomes far worse without their top weapon. The news that the team is considering an IR trip for Jones is also disconcerting: with only 4 games left in the season, including Week 14, that would mean the end of Julio’s 2020.
Gurley’s return to full health would be a welcome one for the Falcons, who have struggled mightily on the ground over the past few games. Despite averaging just 3.6 YPC in 2020, Gurley has managed to contribute 9 TDs—a welcome addition for an Atlanta offense which has struggled in the scoring department.
We’re still waiting on the status of players like G James Carpenter and S Ricardo Allen. Both missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday. The rest of the players on the injury report were only limited in practice, so it’s unlikely that any of them are going to miss the game.
With the Falcons just one loss away from a losing record, every game is vital for Raheem Morris—who is auditioning for the full-time HC job with Atlanta, but also with other NFL teams who may be on the hunt. The loss of Julio, potentially for the rest of the season, will certainly make things much harder for the team.