By Matthew Asher
Week 8’s win against Philly was the most complete game the Falcons have played all year so far. “I thought we started really fast in all three phases,” coach Mike Smith said. “Guys, played against a very good football team yesterday…I thought the coaches did a great job with their game planning and the players went out and executed.” The trick for Atlanta now is to have the same type of game this week against the Dallas Cowboys.
For the time being, Atlanta will have to make due without starting linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (low ankle sprain), who was one of several Falcons injured in the win against the Eagles. “I think we know where he’s going to be tomorrow in terms of whether if he’s going to be able to go beyond that,” Smith said. “He wasn’t able to come out here and work with our guys on the sideline. When he can get out here and do some stuff on the side then we’ll think he has a chance. If he’s not able to do that, then we think he will not be ready to go.”
With Spoon out of practice, Akeem Dent got the reps with the first team defense today. Dent already has started for the Falcons defense this year when he played every defensive snap against the Oakland Raiders with Stephen Nicholas slowed by a sore ankle.
The other Falcons who didn’t participate in today’s practice were guard Garrett Reynolds (back) and wide receiver Kevin Cone (groin). Wide receiver Harry Douglas (knee/ankle) was limited throughout practice but was able to participate in some of the walk-through reps.
Even though Atlanta is still the only undefeated team left in the NFL, coach Smith isn’t making a big deal out of the Falcons current record. “You may not believe this, but you’re on a week-to-week cycle in the National Football League,” Smith said. “It really doesn’t matter what happened the week before. It’s all about the next game. That’s how you have to approach it…It’s no different whether you’re 3-3, 4-3, 6-1, 7-0. Everybody else is going to concern themselves with it. We’ve got to make sure we’re preparing for the next game.”
Whether or not coach Smith is telling the truth about not worrying about Atlanta’s record, one thing’s for sure: having the best record in the league does take some pressure off you, knowing that one loss should not cripple the remainder of your season.
WIth two more days of practice this week, Smith knows the team can only do so much to prepare for the Sunday Night game against Dallas. As always, one of the biggest x-factors in any football game is the fans at the stadium. For that factor of the game, Smith knows that the Falcons faithful will do their part. “I have no doubt that about 8:15, 8:20 P.M. it’s going to be rocking at the Dome this week,” Smith said. “Our fans are the best in the National Football League, and we’re going to need it because we need to get some procedural penalties and they’re the reason we get those is the crowd noise.”
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Matthew Asher is a freelance writer covering all things Atlanta sports related. His work can be found on Examiner.com.