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Dante Fowler is back

Atlanta’s most effective edge rusher returns, with Steven Means heading to injured reserve.

Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

The Falcons can beat the Cowboys, but it would certainly help if they had a few breaks along the way. They got one today, with Dante Fowler returning to the team.

The Falcons made a flurry of moves and announcements today ahead of their game against the Cowboys, including Fowler’s return, Steven Means to injured reserve, Parker Hesse to the roster for the weekend, and further confirmation that a pair of useful reserves will miss the game. Fowler is obviously the headliner here, as he was building some steam before hitting injured reserve and looked like this team’s best edge rusher before he got hurt. He’s still tied for the team lead in sacks with 2 despite only playing in four-and-a-half games in 2021.

With Means out, Fowler, Ade Ogundeji, James Vaughters and Brandon Copeland will be tasked with taking advantage of Tyron Smith’s absence for the Cowboys, hoping to get enough pressure on Dak Prescott to throw off an offense that struggled mightily last week but has been terrific for most of the season. Let’s hope Fowler’s return makes that easier for them, and that pressure proves to be a difference maker for a team we’d all love to see get above .500 for the first time in 2021.

Means was hurt last Sunday scooping up and returning that Vaughters strip sack, and he nearly had a touchdown on the play but injured himself. We didn’t know how serious the injury was, but apparently it’s enough to keep him out for at least three weeks. We’ll hope he recovers swiftly and is back on the field as soon as he’s eligible to be.

Without Smith, who has been a capable blocker and occasionally terrific receiving option, the Falcons will turn to Hesse as their third tight end against the Cowboys. He’ll likely play somewhere between 10-20 snaps and will hopefully prove to be a fine blocking option in his own right, though I wouldn’t expect him to be a major part of this passing attack otherwise. Without Bullard and with Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard looming as a dangerous duo, the Falcons will likely lean heavily on proven run-stopping options like Grady Jarrett, Marlon Davidson, Mike Pennel and Anthony “Tony Rush” Rush.

Give Fowler a warm welcome back to the team, and let’s hope his return bodes well for a pass rush that really needs him.