Strategy And Personnel

The Sports Xchange

November 15, 2018 at 12:24 am.


–K Matt Bryant’s status (right groin) won’t likely be known until game time. There is no reason to rush Bryant’s return given the success of Giorgio Tavecchio the last two games.

–DE Derrick Shelby (groin) continues to be limited in practice. He played last week and had a couple of tackles. His status will be finalized this weekend.

–LB Deion Jones (foot) has been practicing and is eligible to come off injured reserve. Head coach Dan Quinn indicated Wednesday that a decision would be made later in the week. Some believe Jones will not be activated for Sunday’s game with the Cowboys, but will return for the Thanksgiving game against the Saints.

–DB Justin Bethel had one tackle on special teams last week. That gives him 11 for the season, the best in the NFL.

–WR Julio Jones has averaged 116.7 yards receiving in three meetings with Dallas. Of the seven non-division teams Jones has faced at least three times, his yards-per-game against the Cowboys ranks the third-highest.

–QB Matt Ryan continues to reach milestones. Last week he passed Drew Bledsoe for 14th-most passing yards (44,811) in NFL history. The previous week he passed Vinny Testaverde for the 15th most passing touchdowns (281). He needs nine touchdown passes to catch Johnny Unitas.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: If MLB Deion Jones is able to return this week from a foot injury he suffered in the first game, it will provide a huge boost to the defense – both on the field and in the huddle. Jones, the team’s top tackler, is considered the leader of the defense.

“He’s been a great player for us since Day 1,” Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan said. “You hate to see guys go down and miss time but he’s done a great job with his rehab. He’s been around all the time, he’s helping those other linebackers out during the week in terms of game planning and trying to add any device he can.”

Jones, a third-year player, had 106 tackles and three interceptions as a rookie and 138 tackles and three interceptions in 2017. He had nine tackles and one interception in the season opener before hurting his foot.

“He’s done so much,” HEAD coach Dan Quinn said. “If he is back, he would have that role (as on-field communicator) as well. When he does get back, he’ll be in all the packages.”

GAME PLAN: Quarterback Matt Ryan will be tested by a Dallas defense that plays well against the pass. However, the Dallas defensive front is all beat up, so it remains to be seen how much pressure the Cowboys can get against Ryan. If he’s allowed to play without fear it will be a long day for Dallas. Ryan is 3-1 against the Cowboys, completing 66.4 percent of his throws for 1,040 yards and six touchdowns.

QUOTES TO NOTE: Falcons head coach Dan Quinn on Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott being a special player: “I would say it’s the patience that he has. He can wait to set up a block and stick his foot in the ground and really explode. Other times you can see him take a handoff and see a read about to happen, then he can change direction and really explode.”

–Quarterback Matt Ryan on the energy level shown by the team: “Sometimes you know if you’ve had a better week of practice than others. The funny part is the correlation is not always the same or sometimes you can have a rough week of practice and then play really, really well. The same can be true of having a really good week of practice and then not perform as well as you like and being prepared and not performing the way you want. I think we’ve done a good job. The one thing that you can control is your preparation and your attention to detail and I think that’s been good for the most part this year, I think we have prepared well. Our results haven’t been what we want but you’ve got to control that process portion of it and I think we’ve done a nice job of that.”

–Falcons RB Tevin Coleman vs. Cowboys DL. This could be a good chance for Coleman and stablemate Ito Smith to pick up some yardage on the ground. Dallas has three defensive linemen and a linebacker who are questionable for this week’s game, leaving the Falcons to perform against a group of non-starters. Coleman has rushed for 442 yards this season, but had just 44 in the loss to Cleveland.

–Falcons CB Robert Alford vs. Cowboys WR Amari Cooper. Alford played well last week against the Browns after missing the previous week with an ankle injury. Cooper has 11 catches for 133 yards and one touchdown since being acquired by the Cowboys in Week 9. He had five catches for 71 yards in his only game against Atlanta while with the Raiders.