May 27, 2024

When the Atlanta Falcons commence their practice on Wednesday, several key players will not participate fully. Falcons coach Arthur Smith revealed in his Wednesday press conference that starting quarterback Taylor Heinicke will be restricted in practice due to an ongoing left ankle injury. Smith indicated that Heinicke would likely follow a similar practice schedule as the previous week, being limited on Wednesday and Thursday, a full participant on Friday, and ultimately not listed on the injury report by Sunday.

Heinicke’s ankle issue resurfaced in the fourth quarter of the Sunday’s 37-17 loss to the Chicago Bears. He mentioned that his foot was stepped on during his second-to-last throw, leading to his replacement by backup Desmond Ridder for Atlanta’s final two drives.

In addition, center Drew Dalman will also be absent from Wednesday’s practice due to an ankle injury sustained after playing the first 48 snaps last Sunday. Backup Ryan Neuzil is expected to take over at center in Dalman’s absence.

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The Falcons face uncertainty with two other starters, as safety DeMarcco Hellams and nickel corner Mike Hughes are currently in concussion protocol. If they are unable to play this week, their positions are likely to be filled by safety Richie Grant and nickel Dee Alford, the players whose starting spots Hellams and Hughes had previously taken.

With a critical matchup against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday and the NFC South title still up for grabs, the Falcons (7-9) aim to secure a win. To claim the division crown and break a six-year playoff drought, Atlanta needs a victory and a loss by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-8) to the Carolina Panthers (2-14). However, the Falcons must prioritize their own preparations first, and having a healthy roster would significantly enhance their chances.

The game between Atlanta and New Orleans is scheduled to kick off on Sunday at 1 p.m. EST inside Caesars Superdome.

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