Atlanta’s secondary was in tough shape heading into the game against the Bengals, with A.J. Terrell perhaps less than 100%, Dee Alford out, and Casey Hayward on injured reserve. The news got worse from there, with Terrell exiting and Jaylinn Hawkins getting hurt as well, leaving the Falcons down several key players. The results were predictable enough, as Joe Burrow carved the defense up like it was an overcooked turkey.
The big questions was how significant those injuries would prove to be, and whether the Falcons would be without those players for multiple weeks. We still don’t fully know the answer to that, but the good news is that none of these seem to be long-term ailments. The bad news is that the Falcons seem likely to be without both Terrell and Hawkins this week.
Terrell’s been hurt in each of the past two games, and against the Bengals he pulled up after one play and had to exit for the rest of the afternoon. The priority has to be taking the time to get the team’s best cornerback fully healthy so he can come back and be a difference maker, as the team is already without Hayward and are set to play an extremely mediocre Carolina passing attack twice in the next three weeks. It will be bad news if they’re without him for the game against a very capable Chargers passing attack, but we’ll just have to wait and see if he’s able to come back.
The good news is that Arthur Smith also said that Dee Alford, who missed Week 7, is day-to-day. That will hopefully mean the team gets Alford back against the Panthers and can roll out Darren Hall, Isaiah Oliver, and Alford as their top three options.
Hawkins will hopefully only miss this week, but in his absence the Falcons will likely turn to Dean Marlowe, who has split time with him for stretches this season. Hawkins has had an up-and-down year with several big plays to go with some challenges in coverage, but he’s been reliable on balance and his loss is another blow to the secondary. The hope is that he, like Terrell, will be healthy enough to play against the Chargers, where he’ll be sorely needed.
This isn’t the worst injury report we could’ve gotten, but it’s not the best one, either. Hopefully the Falcons can get by this week with some notable absences and have Terrell and Hawkins healthy sooner than later.