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Plagued by Injury, Is There Any Hope for the Flailing Falcons?

For the 1-4 Atlanta Falcons, their bye week couldn’t come at a better time this week. This team has lost its top wide receiver Julio Jones for the season. Its second player in the receiver duo, Roddy White, is now battling a hamstring injury, and fingers are crossed its running back Steven Jackson will return after the break.

But there’s more injuries plaguing this team. Two starters kicked things off in mid September as defensive end Kroy Biermann and fullback Bradie Ewing were already done for 2013.

This started the team’s problems and while the injuries were a contributor, with a 1-4 record, you have to wonder about the players’ talents and coaching as additional factors for the Falcons’ disappointing season to-date.

Currently, the team is enjoying four days off and will resume practice on Tuesday. Will this break given them new hope to turn around their season from a three-game losing streak?

Time will heal all wounds for the injured players but the clock is ticking. When the Falcons hit the field early next week, look for a new face to line up at wide receiver, Brian Robiskie. The player signed a one-year contract with the Falcons and well, he knows its offense and language thanks to his former playing time with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2011; he played under offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter.

Oh yeah, there’s also the fact that the team’s assistant head coach and the receivers coach, Terry Robiskie, is Brian’s dad.

Falcons head coach Mike Smith said of Robiskie coaching his son via ESPN,  “I know that father and son always speak and I’m sure they kind of speak the same language. When they talk, they talk in the verbiage that Terry has probably talked to him all of his life, so I think it will help.”

Also looking to help out the depleted wide receiver corp. will be fifth-year veteran Harry Douglas.

He knows he’ll face some pressure to step up and said to ESPN, “You have to take what the defense gives you, basically. For me, that’s just going out there and being me. I’m not going to try and be somebody I’m not.”

For last Monday’s game, Douglas played 38 snaps but only had 2 receptions for 6 yards. Should White be absent for the upcoming game in Week 7, he’ll take over as the team’s most seasoned wide receiver.

But the depleted wide receiver corp isn’t the Falcons’ only challenge, the team’s bigger problem may be its offensive line. After its loss to the New York Jets, Atlanta Constitution’s columnist Jeff Schulz wrote this:

The Falcons’ biggest issue remains the offensive line. Their starters against the Jets: left tackle Lamar Holmes (a draft pick who can’t play, which is something neither Smith nor general manager Thomas Dimitroff will acknowledge); left guard Justin Blalock (the best player on the line but, unfortunately, not a take-charge, leader type, which the group desperately needs); center Peter Konz (who has not been the physical upgrade from Todd McClure that the team had hoped and obviously lacks McClure’s experience and intelligence); right guard Garrett Reynolds (not an NFL-caliber starter); and tackle Jeremy Trueblood (who was cut before the season by Washington).

This isn’t a new problems this season but one that’s become more glaring and perhaps less fixable. It may be a grater challenge to overcome.

Good teams find ways to win but expectations will need to be tempered. The Falcons upcoming schedule bodes well for a turnaround: the Bucs, the Arizona Cardinals and the Carolina Panthers. There should be wins in this mix but for tight end Tony Gonzalez his likelihood of retiring with a Super Bowl ring don’t look good.

 

Debbie Baratz

Deb has been writing about the NFL and NCAA football for the last few years. She is a full-time writer and an avid sports fan. Follow her on twitter @ldbar.

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