As usual, there are many captivating players on the Atlanta Falcons heading into their Week 12 matchup against the Washington Commanders. But by decree of the Football Gods, only five can be named as intriguing each week, and I must follow that decree.
Here are this week’s five.
With tight end Kyle Pitts going on injured reserve, it leaves the Falcons without their primary pass-catching weapon. That is where rookie Drake London must don the mantle.
London already leads the team across all receiving categories, but must contribute even more with Pitts out of the lineup. He should have a favorable matchup this week in Washington, where starting cornerbacks Kendall Fuller and Benjamin St. Juste have given up a combined 988 yards this season, the most of any starting duo in the league according to Pro Football Focus.
MyCole Pruitt & Parker Hesse
Speaking of Pitts’ absence, the players that will be directly responsible for filling his shoes at tight end will be a combination of blockers MyCole Pruitt and Parker Hesse. Neither player will come close to filling the Pitts-sized void within the Falcons’ passing attack, but both are more than capable of picking up the slack in the run game.
So it’s likely the Falcons will focus on running the ball as much as possible in this game, and therefore put both tight ends in a position to shine. However, they can still create receiving opportunities for both via play-action passes. Pruitt nabbed a 17-yard catch last week on such a play.
Whoever starts this week at left guard will face a tough matchup against Commanders defensive linemen Jonathan Allen. Chuma Edoga is coming off a solid starting debut against the Chicago Bears, but has been bothered by a knee injury all week in practice and is listed as questionable on the official injury report.
If he’s not ready to go, then Colby Gossett may make his third start of the season. Whichever of the two winds up starting will have their hands full against Allen, who currently ranks second among interior defensive linemen with 40 pressures this season.
Drawing one of the toughest assignments on defense will be cornerback A.J. Terrell, who likely will be asked to shadow Commanders wide receiver Terry McLaurin this weekend. McLaurin had a dominant performance two weeks ago against the Philadelphia Eagles’ cornerback Darius Slay, to the tune of 178 yards. And the Falcons are no strangers to McLaurin going off against them, as he had 123 yards in their matchup a year ago.
But most of that production came against Fabian Moreau and T.J. Green. Now, it’ll be on Terrell to take on the mantle and accomplish something that Moreau, Green, and even Slay all struggled to do.
Can you name other Falcons that intrigue in this Week 12 matchup?