By Matthew Asher
If the Falcons weren’t already worried about their lack of a running game, they should be now. Of the four Falcons listed as out for Sunday’s game, two of them are members of the backfield.
Fullback Lousaka Polite (hamstring) and halfback Antone Smith (hamstring) did not participate in practice at all this week and are listed as out. With two additional Atlanta backs listed as out for the game, there is a possibility that practice squad member Josh Vaughan might suit up for Atlanta as they host Carolina Sunday. The other two Falcons listed as out, cornerback Chris Owens (head) and tight end Michael Palmer (shoulder) also did not participate in any of the week’s practices.
While it’s never easy to replace anybody who’s injured, Atlanta appears to have lucked out with their tight end situation. Tony Gonzalez will be the starting tight end but if the Falcons need to go to a two tight end formation Mike Smith says Tommy Gallarda has been filling in nicely this week.
“Tommy Gallarda is a guy that hasn’t played a whole lot for us, but he’s very accomplished at both catching and blocking” Smith said. “He should be able to step in and fill that role. The biggest issue is normally, we would carry three tight ends and we already know Michael is not going to play this week, so we’re only going to have two active tight ends. We have got to have a plan in place like always.”
Fortunately for Atlanta, the additional five members listed on the injury report were available and by the end of the week, everyone but linebacker Mike Peterson (ribs) fully participated in Friday’s practice. Peterson was limited the entire week and is the only Falcon listed as questionable.
The other four Falcons listed all finished up the week fully participating and are all listed as probable. They are wide receiver Julio Jones (hand), tackle Tyson Clabo (hip), defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux (groin) and linebacker Stephen Nicholas (thigh).
The Carolina Panthers appear to have been bit by the injury bug worse this week than Atlanta. Ten Panthers were listed on the injury report. However, guard Mike Pollak (shoulder) is the only Carolina player listed as out for the game.
Five Panthers are listed as probable. They are running back Jonathan Stewart (toe), defensive end Thomas Keiser (tibia), safety Colin Jones (shoulder) cornerback Chris Gamble (shoulder) and tackle Byron Bell (ankle). All five men fully participated in Friday’s practice.
Defensive end Antwan Applewhite (knee) is the only Panther listed as doubtful. He did not participate in practice this week.
The other three Panthers listed as questionable are linebacker Jon Beason (knee), linebacker Thomas Davis (calf) and defensive end Greg Hardy. Beason was the only of these three limited in Friday’s practice.
Beason played last week’s game against the Giants with a sore shoulder. This week, it’s his knee. “Right now, the knee is really what concerns us,” Carolina head coach Ron Rivera said. “He played with the shoulder (injury) and the knee is inflamed right now.”
- 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.