By Cedric Williams
The Atlanta Falcons suffered a bit of an unusual blow on Wednesday, which will force them to be without one of their top young players this Sunday when the Falcons will host a rematch against the 14-0 Carolina Panthers at the Georgia Dome.
Rookie running back Tevin Coleman suffered a concussion when he slipped and hit his head in the shower following practice on Wednesday, and though Coleman is feeling better now, he is still working his way through the league-mandated concussion protocol, which means he won’t be able to play Sunday against the Panthers.
With Coleman out, the Falcons will go with fellow rookie Terron Ward as the backup to starter Devonta Freeman.
“Only based on the fact that he was doing better today,” Falcons head coach Dan Quinn said on Friday. “So he’s seeing the docs every day and going through the protocol. Just straight bummer for him, man. I’m anticipating moving forward from here just kind of incrementally getting better as it goes.”
Atlanta will also be without rookie nose tackle Grady Jarrett, who’s nursing a shoulder injury. On the bright side, though, the Falcons expect to get veteran nose tackle Paul Soliai back into the starting lineup this week. He had been in and out of the lineup with a calf injury.
Soliai is officially listed as probable for Sunday.
For Carolina, running back Jonathan Stewart was ruled out for the second straight game on Friday with a foot injury. Stewart, who was one of a team-record 10 players selected to play in the Pro Bowl on Tuesday, suffered the injury when the Panthers and Falcons met in Charlotte two weeks ago.
Carolina won that game 38-0, and was taking team celebratory pictures during the fourth quarter two-minute warning, so Stewart’s injury became an afterthought. But now the Panthers will have to play their second straight contest without their leading rusher.
“He’s coming along very nicely, doing the things he’s supposed to be doing, but he will be out,” Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said.
Carolina also added quarterback Cam Newton to its injury report on Friday, though that designation was simply due to Newton missing practice on Friday due to a non-injury related issue. The Panthers’ MVP-candidate signal-caller is officially listed as probable for Sunday and will almost certainly make the start as Carolina looks to be just the third team ever in NFL history to reach the 15-0 mark.
“He did everything he was supposed to do,” Rivera said on Friday. “He had to take off for a family situation — a positive, not negative, nothing bad. We had 11 periods, and he participated in nine. He’ll be back on Saturday.”
Atlanta Falcons Injury Report
OL Chris Chester (shoulder)
WR/KR Devin Hester (turf toe)
OL Jake Matthews (back)
NT Paul Soliai (calf)
LB Paul Worrilow (knee)
LB Ra’Shede Hageman (knee)
RB Tevin Coleman (concussion)
NT Grady Jarrett (shoulder)
Carolina Panthers Injury Report
WR Ted Ginn, Jr. (quad)
DE Charles Johnson (calf)
QB Cam Newton (non-injury related)
DT Kyle Love (concussion)
LB David Mayo (hamstring)
RB Jonathan Stewart (foot)
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, Patch.com, and other outlets from around the area. Please share any comments, questions, or feedback with Cedric at firstname.lastname@example.org. His work can be found on Examiner.com.