The Atlanta Falcons would love to head into their Week 1 matchup against the Seattle Seahawks, but that’s a pipe dream for any NFL dream. While Atlanta’s certainly going to be close to full strength, there were a couple of players who missed practice today and could be out for the first week of the season.
Those players are cornerback Kendall Sheffield and defensive end Charles Harris, both key reserves the Falcons would certainly miss. According to the just released Falcons injury report for the day, Harris and Sheffield were indeed held out, while Russell Gage and Marlon Davidson participated on a limited basis. Matt Hennessy, happily, was back to a full practice.
I don’t see #Falcons DE Charles Harris with the d linemen.— D. Orlando Ledbetter (@DOrlandoAJC) September 9, 2020
To update, Kendall Sheffield is not at practice. Again, seen in walking boot on left foot as recently as Tuesday. Something to monitor throughout the week, especially since he’s not practicing today. https://t.co/twNKfFjJRI— Jason Butt (@JasonHButt) September 9, 2020
The news that Sheffield was spotted in a boot is especially concerning for his availability on Sunday. The second-year cornerback was panned by Pro Football Focus for his work last year, but the young, speedy defensive back showed physicality and promise in multiple starts last year despite that. He was also a key contributor on special teams, playing 31% of the snaps, and he’ll be missed on both defense and special teams should he not play Sunday. We’ll hope his outlook improves rapidly, but at least Blidi Wreh-Wilson will be available to play a larger chunk of the snaps on defense if needed.
There’s less to go on for Harris, but this is the second time this week we’ve seen that he wasn’t spotted in practice. The veteran defensive lineman was expected to be part of the rotation at defensive end for Atlanta, but if he can’t go Sunday it’ll be up to Takk McKinley, Dante Fowler Jr., Allen Bailey, and Steven Means to carry the load, with Jacob Tuioti-Mariner potentially mixing in.
We’ll hope for more news in the days ahead—more positive news, I should say—but the Falcons may have to be prepared to play without Sheffield and Harris.