By Cedric Williams

Even though he did his best to hide how much pain he was in during last Sunday’s 20-13 win over the previously unbeaten Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was clearly suffering from something that left him feeling not right for the final three quarters of the game.  

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On Monday, Ryan revealed that what was bothering him was a sore left hip, which became a problem following a wicked hit from Carolina safety Kurt Coleman. The Falcon QB was able to avoid Pro Bowl linebacker Thomas Davis on the play, but he wasn’t able to avoid Coleman on a seven-yard scramble, which set up teammate Devonta Freeman for a four-yard touchdown run on the next play.

That play proved to be key, as Atlanta was able to tie the score and answer the touchdown Carolina scored on its opening drive of the game.

“He got a good shot on my hip (and) that kind of side area,” Ryan said on Monday. “But I’m feeling good now. I’m feeling a lot better than I was Sunday and (should) be ready to roll tomorrow for practice.”

Ryan’s guess turned out to be right, as he was able to participate fully in Falcons practice on Wednesday. Head coach Dan Quinn was among those who questioned if Ryan might need to sit out a day or two to get ready for this Sunday’s season finale against the New Orleans Saints at the Georgia Dome. But it turned out that Tuesday’s regular players’ day off was all the rest the Falcon QB would need.

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“It looked like it in the walk through today,” Quinn said just before formal practice began on Wednesday. “He was sore on Monday, and then really kind of made a good turn. In the walk through today, he was able to participate in everything. I think he felt good and don’t foresee any limitations for him today.”

WR Julio Jones named NFC Offensive Player of the Week

Falcons receiver Julio Jones was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week on Wednesday, following his spectacular nine-catch, 178-yard performance in Sunday’s win over the Panthers. Jones was also responsible for what many considered the most spectacular play of Week 16, and perhaps the entire 2015 NFL season, when he beat two Carolina defenders for an acrobatic 70-yard catch and run that gave the Falcons their first lead of the game and would later prove to be the game-winning score.

This was the second time Jones received NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors this season (he was recognized following Atlanta’s Week 1 win over Philadelphia as well). And Quinn thought so highly of the accomplishment that he made sure to begin his Wednesday meeting with the media by acknowledging Jones and his teammates for the honor.

“Congrats out to Julio Jones and members of the offense for Julio being named the NFC Player of the Week,” Quinn said. “Accomplishment by one, shared by all, so congrats to him (and his teammates).”


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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 cedricwilliams510@gmail.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com.