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Falcons Make Use of “Mini-Bye Week”, Key Players Back for Carolina

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PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 28: Cornerback Asante Samuel #22 of the Atlanta Falcons celebrates during the closing moments of the Falcons 30-17 win over the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on October 28, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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By Matthew Asher

With a full ten days off in between games, the Falcons made the most of the extra days of rest. The Atlanta Falcon trainers and players may want to remember how they spent the extra days off this week when the playoffs come. While there were twelve players listed in Week 11 and eleven listed in Week 12’s injury reports, only four Falcons are listed for Week 13.

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 28:  Cornerback Asante Samuel #22 of the Atlanta Falcons celebrates during the closing moments of the Falcons 30-17 win over the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on October 28, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

All four Falcons are listed as questionable for the game. Two of them were not able to practice at all throughout the week: cornerback Asante Samuel (shoulder) and safety William Moore (hamstring). When Coach Smith spoke to reporters on Thursday he said he hoped to have both Moore and Samuel out on the practice field a little bit, unfortunately that didn’t happen.

With Atlanta already shallow in their secondary, Smitty didn’t want to risk Asante re-injuring himself just a few weeks before the playoffs start. “We’re going to definitely be very cautious and make sure he’s ready to go,” Smitty said. “He wants to be out there playing, I know that, but we have to make sure that he gets cleared by the doctors before we put him out there.”

The other two Falcons listed on the report are running back Michael Turner (elbow) and defensive tackle Peria Jerry (quad). Both Turner and Jerry were limited, but were able to practice on Friday. Jerry and Samuel are the only two Falcons that were both on this week’s injury report and last week’s.

Of course veteran tight end Tony Gonzalez appreciated the extra days off. While getting extra time to heal is always a plus, it wasn’t the only thing he liked about the additional days off. “It was good to get away for sure and kind of clear your mind here a little bit, but now it’s back to business.” That business, of course, is their fellow NFC South foe: the Carolina Panthers.

Remembering how close their first encounter this season with them was, Gonzalez is still preparing for a tough opponent. “We’re not taking them lightly,” Tony said. “If you look at what happened last game I mean they had us. If it wasn’t for great plays by a couple guys we might’ve lost that one. It’s important we go out there and stay focused coming off this mini-bye week and get ready to play.”

While the Panthers aren’t as lucky as the Falcons, their injury report isn’t too bad. Seven Panthers are listed: one probable, five questionable and one doubtful.

Tight end Greg Olsen (back) is the one Carolina player listed as probable and was able to fully participate in practice, the only Panther on the injury report to do so this week. The five Panthers listed as questionable are wide receiver Brandon LaFell (toe), defensive tackle Dwan Edwards (wrist), linebacker James Anderson (eye), center Jeff Byers (back) and safety Charles Godfrey (back).

LaFell, Edwards and Anderson did part participate in practice on Friday. Godfrey and Byers were able to participate in a limited amount on Friday. The one Panther listed as doubtful is running back Jonathan Stewart (ankle). He was inactive on Friday like LaFell and Edwards.

For reference:

  • 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

For more Local Football Bloggers and the latest Falcons news, see CBS Sports Atlanta.

Matthew Asher is a freelance writer covering all things Atlanta sports related. His work can be found on Examiner.com.

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