By Matthew Asher
With their bye week now officially done, the Falcons returned to practice this week in preparation for their game with the Philadelphia Eagles. Fortunately for Atlanta, several players, including tight end Michael Palmer, spent the extra week off recovering from injuries and are expected to play in this week’s game.
Palmer injured his shoulder in the Week 3 win over San Diego on Sept. 23. Monday was his first day back on the practice field.
“Missing three games, that’s a long time to be standing on the side lines watching your teammates,” Palmer said. “Luckily, we were able to keep winning so that always makes it easier.”
While the majority of the Falcons spent last week simply resting, Palmer did a lot more to make sure his body would be ready for this week. “I spent the whole week here getting treatment,” Palmer said. “So it wasn’t too much of a bye week for me. But that’s OK. I’m just ready to get back out there on the field.”
As per usual, head coach Mike Smith wouldn’t fully disclose which players will be listed on this week’s injury report, but he did shed a little light on the situation. “I don’t want to be too transparent,” Smith said. “We don’t have to give an injury report until Wednesday. We’ve got some guys back.”
Smith did talk about Palmer’s return. “We were targeting this week,” Smith said. “Michael was able to participate in practice today, so that’s a positive to get him back.” While Smith wouldn’t say if Palmer would actually be in Sunday’s lineup, it’s not out of the question. Palmer himself is working hard to ensure he can be a factor in Philly by simply saying ““I’m hoping to hit the ground running.”
The other returning player Smith talked about was defensive tackle Corey Peters. Peters began the season on the reserve/non-football injury list due to a foot injury in the preseason. Since Peters was placed on the non-football injury list, he was ineligible to began practicing with the Falcons until Atlanta’s sixth game was completed.
Peters still isn’t technically activated on the Falcons roster, but he is able to participate in practices. This gives Smith and company the chance to see if Peters has recovered from his injury and is ready to play. “By rule, we have 21 days left to activate him,” Smith said “But it was very nice to see Corey Peters with a football helmet and his shoulder pads out on the field today.”
On Monday coach Smith held a 2 hour and 40 minute practice session. While the players had last week off, the coaching staff certainly did not. “We spent the week taking a good, hard look at things that we have to get better at,” Smith said. “We identified them. Today was a Falcon on Falcon day where we came out here and really worked on fundamentals…Big day on fundamentals today. Things we feel like we needed to do to help ourselves play better through the last ten games of the season.”
“We spent more time in our individual periods today then we normally would to work on some of the fundamental things on offense, defense, and on special teams. Our special teams period early in the practice was specifically on some fundamentals. The majority of the practice today was working on fundamentals.”
Smith said that the team will start game planning for the Eagles on Wednesday, giving the players the usual amount of time when they don’t have a bye week.
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Matthew Asher is a freelance writer covering all things Atlanta sports related. His work can be found on Examiner.com.