Daren Bates was signed to help out the Falcons special teams when they needed that help badly, as Atlanta had surrendered a pair of long kickoff returns against Washington and the Jets. Bates was indeed a big help over the course of four weeks, but then an injury knocked him out for nearly a month and led to him being placed on injured reserve.
This week, core special teamer Emmanuel Ellerbee is on the reserve/COVID-19 list, which would be a blow for a Falcons team that has been leaning heavily on him since Bates got hurt. Fortunately for Atlanta, Bates is on his way back, and could suit up against the 49ers.
We have designated LB Daren Bates to return to practice today.— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) December 15, 2021
This team has been getting help the past few weeks with Dante Fowler, Hayden Hurst and now Bates coming back, and his return is well-timed given Ellerbee’s likely absence. Bates will plug in if he’s ready to go as a long-time steady tackler on special teams and help the Falcons corral the likes of Brandon Aiyuk, Trenton Cannon and Deebo Samuel, who have been returning kicks and punts for the 49ers this year and doing a solid job of it.
Give Bates a warm welcome back, and we’ll hope his presence Sunday helps this team avoid any costly special teams mistakes.