If there is one thing the Atlanta Falcons cannot afford it is to have their two biggest playmakers on the sidelines. However, the team received a scare this week when both Julio Jones and Roddy White missed practice time for various injuries. The team dealt with this issue last season which played a major factor in their 4-12 finish on the year. However, both players and head coach Mike Smith deny the injuries are anything to panic about.
Jones missed practice on Monday for an ankle related injury, but returned on Tuesday and was not limited. The wide receiver was leading the NFL last season when he went down with a foot injury that ended his season prematurely. Jones underwent surgery and rehab for the issue, plus he had special cleats made by Under Armor to help prevent any future issues from happening. He will be good-to-go on Thursday when the Falcons play the Buccaneers.
White is also expected to play against Tampa Bay. The wide receiver is currently dealing with a knee and hamstring injury that has kept him out of two practices. He injured his knee against the New Orleans Saints while having the hamstring issue creep up in the loss the Cincinnati Bengals. He told media that he was fine and would be healthy, something Smith is echoing.
"It's not important for Roddy to practice,'' Smith said, via ESPN.com. "We'd like for Roddy to practice, but it's all about getting Roddy ready on a short week. And some of these guys across the league that have some age with them, on a short week, you've got to get them to Thursday. And that's our intention. Right now, our goal is to have Roddy as healthy as he can be for the ball game on Thursday night.''
Without White, the Falcons wide receiving group would be down to three as Devin Hester and Harry Douglas would take over. While those two have proven they are perfect replacements for the veteran, the Falcons want White active and playing. Another player Atlanta wants healthy and playing is left tackle Jake Matthews who returned after spraining his ankle in Week 1. Smith was extremely optimistic that Matthews would be back on the field come Thursday night after he missed Week 2.
"It was great to have Jake back out to practice today,'' Smith said. "It was good to get him back into the starting lineup. We're pleased with the progress that he's made with the athletic guys in terms of what they've been doing with him. And we've been able to basically go through a full practice with him today.''