By Matthew Asher
One of the drawbacks to playing a Monday Night Football game is that you have even less time to prepare for the following week’s match-up. Less preparation time means a greater chance for injuries.
Not wanting to risk injuring any of his players on a short week of preparation, Falcons head coach Mike Smith kept running back Antone Smith (hamstring) and cornerback Christopher Owens (concussion) out of practice during the week. Both men are listed as out for Sunday’s game against San Diego, scheduled for 4:05 p.m.
Tackle Tyson Clabo (hip), defensive end John Abraham (knee), linebackers Sean Weatherspoon (thigh) and Stephen Nicholas (thigh), and both starting wide receivers Roddy White (knee) and Julio Jones (thigh) were limited in practice throughout the week. The good news is that none of these players are listed as out for the Chargers game.
Tyson Clabo and Sean Weatherspoon are listed as questionable. Jones, White, Abraham and Nichols are all listed as probable.
While having six players listed as either questionable or probable may seem like an issue, Falcons fans shouldn’t worry too much. Both Clabo and Witherspoon were listed as questionable last week against Denver. Both men not only suited up for Monday’s game, but were active in 100 percent of their unit’s snaps. Clabo played all 67 offensive snaps and Weatherspoon played all 73 defensive snaps.
On Wednesday, Mike Smith explained why so many Falcons were limited in practice. “The reason a lot of those guys are limited in their participation is [because] we are on a short week,” Smith said. “There aren’t even 48 hours out from the end of the [Monday] ball game. We wanted to rest some of those guys.”
With Owens as a definite out, Dominique Franks will take over at the nickel spot for Atlanta. In the game against Denver, Franks was on the field for 60 out of the 73 defensive snaps (82 percent). Antoine Smith is on several special teams for the Falcons. Coach Smith didn’t say who would replace Antoine.
San Diego has seven men listed on the injury report.Tackle Jared Gaither (back) and cornerback Shareece Wright (foot) did not participate in practice and are listed as out for the game.
The other five Chargers, running backs Curtis Brinkley (knee) and Ryan Mathews (clavicle), wide receiver Eddie Royal (shoulder), and tight ends Antonio Gates (ribs) and Dante Rosario (calf) all fully participated in Friday’s practice. Mathews is the only Charger listed as questionable. All other men on the injury report are listed as probable.
Coach Mike Smith isn’t taking any chances in hoping that San Diego playmakers Mathews and Gates are out of the lineup. Smith said the Falcons are preparing for the game by assuming both men will be healthy enough to play. On Saturday, the Falcons will go through a walk-through at PetCo Park to prepare for their trip to QUALCOMM stadium.
- Probable: a 75% chance the injured player will be medically cleared for the game
- Questionable: a 50% chance the injured player will be medically cleared for the game
- Doubtful: a 25% chance the injured player will be medically cleared for the game
- Out: there is no chance the injured player will be medically cleared for the game
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Matthew Asher is a freelance writer covering all things Atlanta sports related. His work can be found on Examiner.com.