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Falcons Looking Healthy And Confident As NFC Championship Game Looms

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By: Danny Cox

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 13: Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons reacts during their NFC Divisional Playoff Game against the Seattle Seahawks at Georgia Dome on January 13, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

(Credit, Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

The Atlanta Falcons know that mistakes were made against the Seattle Seahawks last weekend, and that they almost blew an entire fantastic season in just 30 minutes. With the San Francisco 49ers coming to town for the NFC Championship game, the Falcons realize that they will have to be mistake-free in order to head to the Super Bowl.

They’re also going to have to play for a full 60 minutes.

So far this week, head coach Mike Smith and the Falcons are practicing for their upcoming game in ways that they know are necessary to win against the 49ers. They’re putting everything out there and making practice as much of a “full-go” as possible, because a half-game against San Francisco just won’t cut it.

Weather forced Wednesday’s practice indoors so the team wasn’t able to do all they normally do, but Smith says that the team had a good practice nonetheless. The only thing that couldn’t be done by moving the practice indoors was punting, but the rest was at full speed.

Making matters better for the Falcons is that their injury report is looking quite favorable. Only five players are listed as suffering from any type of injury so far, and two of them participated fully in Wednesday’s practice. Two others participated in a limited fashion, but the good news is that they were on the field. Only one player sat out completely on Wednesday.

Safety William Moore is one of those that fully participated in practice on Wednesday, but he is suffering with an injured hand. Linebacker Stephen Nicholas has an injured foot, but he also participated fully in Wednesday’s practice.

During Wednesday’s press conference, Smith said that the other three players listed on the injury report are the players they are most concerned about.

Cornerback Chris Owens sat out Wednesday and didn’t practice at all. He is dealing with a hamstring injury, and just was not able to get going at all.

Defensive tackled Jonathan Babineaux has a shoulder injury and was limited in practice along with defensive end John Abraham, who has an ankle injury. This could be some bad news for the Falcons if both of these guys end up not playing this weekend or being limited against the 49ers, as it could spell disaster.

Both Babineaux and Abraham will play key roles in keeping 49ers’ explosive quarterback Colin Kaepernnick at bay, and their abilities being limited could cause problems. San Francisco is full of big-time playmakers on offense, including running back Frank Gore, and those two players’ presence on the Falcons’ defensive line is going to be necessary.

Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon says that Atlanta is preparing differently for a read-option quarterback such as Kaepernick. He knows that the team has to prepare for a guy that will look like he is about to throw downfield, but can tuck it and run at the very last second.

Looking at things from the offensive side of the ball, the Falcons really should have no problems. They’re an experienced team with lots of talent and quarterback Matt Ryan feels that they’re already prepared for the 49ers, but Wednesday’s practice began things off on the right foot.

Ryan says that Wednesday was a “good start” and that this weekend’s game plan was already being implemented and put into place. At least for the on-field leader of the Falcons, he is sleeping well, not under pressure, and is feeling great both physically and mentally.

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

Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. His work can be found on Examiner.com.

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