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Julio Jones, Todd Gurley expected to play vs. Saints, minus any pregame setbacks

The Falcons will get back two needed players on offense.

Atlanta Falcons v New Orleans Saints Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

We’ve beat this particular drum a lot in the last couple of weeks, but under Dirk Koetter the Falcons passing game has been downright inept without Julio Jones. In essence, it has become the kind of attack that can get Younghoe Koo into field goal range, but the business of scoring and putting up 300 yards goes away when only Calvin Ridley is consistently capable of getting open.

That’s why it’s such great news that Julio is expected to play against the Saints this time out, as his absence was keenly felt when he missed most of the game the last time out. The fact that Atlanta also figures to have Todd Gurley is a nice bonus for an offense that needs all hands on deck and is going to be down Olamide Zaccheaus.

We’ll hope both can go. Julio has been a Saints killer in the past, and the double teams he commands helps to free up others in the passing game, a virtual necessity with this team needing to transition to an up-tempo, quick hitting attack to mitigate the Saints’ pressure. Matt Ryan has been sacked 17 times over the past two games, so getting the ball out and actually getting this offense moving is something the Falcons just have to do to win this football game. Establishing the run against the best run defense in the league is going to be tough if not impossible, but Gurley’s pass protection skills and his little-utilized ability to catch the football out of the backfield both could be improtant today, as well.

We’ll hope both can go, both are effective, and this Falcons offense finally gets going against New Orleans.