By Cedric Williams

When the Atlanta Falcons took the field at Flowery Branch for a brisk, chilly practice on Wednesday afternoon, 53 players on the active roster were there to participate, except running back Devonta Freeman and wide receiver Leonard Hankerson. Both players suffered injuries during the Falcons’ last game, a 24-21 loss this past Sunday at the Georgia Dome, to the Indianapolis Colts,

Freeman went down with a concussion and is in the process of going through the league’s three-step concussion protocol before he can return to the field. While Hankerson has re-aggravated a hamstring injury from nearly a month ago, which kept him sidelined for three straight games before the Indianapolis game.

“The two guys who will be out today are Devonta Freeman and Leonard Hankerson,” head coach Dan Quinn told the media before Wednesday’s practice. “Everybody else will be participating. Freeman will be out as he’s going through the concussion protocols today.”

With Hankerson having missed so much time previously with the same injury, he seems like a good bet to be out when the Falcons host the Minnesota Vikings this Sunday. Freeman was said to be doing well, even though Quinn didn’t want to speculate on the subject.

“I don’t have an update on that,” Quinn said. “I can come back and follow up with that tomorrow. He’s in the first phase of it, the workout part. I’m not exactly sure what to describe it as, so I’ll follow up with you.”

If Freeman can’t go this week, then rookie Tevin Coleman would start in his place.

Quinn reinterates that Matt Ryan is healthy

The other health issue surrounding the Falcons is in regards to quarterback Matt Ryan. Ryan has struggled some in recent weeks, causing some observers to speculate that maybe the veteran signal-caller was playing through an injury. He shot down those thoughts following Sunday’s loss to Indianapolis, and Quinn said essentially the same thing to the media on Wednesday.

“From a health standpoint, Matt’s fully healthy and ready to go,” Quinn said. “From what normally happens with the shots and hits on the quarterback, those have been down for him. I think he is healthy going into it. There’s nothing that he’s dealing with from an injury standpoint.”

Quinn was also asked if Ryan’s recent performance, which has included six interceptions in the last four games and three of his worst passing performances of the season, has caused him to lose any confidence in the Falcon quarterback. Quinn was quick to say that it has not.

“For the second part of the question, in terms of our confidence in him, there’s no doubt it’s as high as it could be because we have such belief and trust in him,” Quinn said. “We’ll do a better job of taking care of the ball and that’s not just for him that’s for our entire offense. It’s the center, left tackle, tight end, and running back. That’s when we’re at our best. As we’re going we know what he brings to us. He’s a huge stakeholder in what we do, so there’s no backing off it one bit for him.”

Cedric Williams, a lifelong St. Louisan and proud UMSL alum, has been a full-time reporter/photographer covering St. Louis area sports for nearly two decades. Most recently, he has been working as a credentialed beat writer covering the NFL, as well as college and high school sports for the St. Louis American,, and other outlets from around the area. Please share any comments, questions, or feedback with Cedric at His work can be found on


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