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Jason Snelling gets closer to returning from injury


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Jason Snelling gets closer to returning from injury

By D. Orlando Ledbetter

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

FLOWERY BRANCH – Falcons running back Jason Snelling, who missed last week's game with a hamstring injury, did not practice on Thursday.

Michael Turner had all 24 carries from the running backs group last week against Tampa Bay. The Falcons remain hopeful that Snelling, who averages 4.1 yards per carry, will be able to play at Carolina on Sunday.

"He worked very hard on the side with our training staff," coach Mike Smith said. "I'm hoping that he will get back. We'll get out here [Friday] and see where he's at."

Tight end Tony Gonzalez, who rolled his right ankle in the fourth quarter against Tampa Bay, returned to practice.

Linebackers Coy Wire (head) and Curtis Lofton (knee) did not practice. Smith called Lofton's day off a "maintenance" day.

Stopping the run

The Falcons expect the Panthers to rely on their running game in order to help out rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen, who's 0-6 as a starter.

The Falcons' run defense had been playing well until letting Tampa Bay's LeGarrette Blount rush for 103 yards last week. They had gone nine games without allowing a 100-yard rusher.

"We won't make any excuses," said Lofton, who leads the team with 114 tackles. "It's just overall attitude and missed tackles. We can't have the missed tackles. I have to come out and have a better game."

Carolina will feature running backs Jonathan Stewart and Mike Goodson, who average 3.9 and 4.1 yards per carry, respectively.

"He's really good," Lofton said of Goodson. "I played against him in college [vs. Texas A&M] a couple of times. He's just really grown as a pro. He's very fast and agile. It's going to take a good effort to bring him down."

On the plane

Last season, the Falcons rode buses to Charlotte for their game against the Panthers.

Because the game is later in the season this year and the Falcons are in the middle of a three-game road trip, they will fly the 250 miles to Charlotte on Saturday.

"The bus wasn't that bad," fullback Ovie Mughelli said. "A lot of guys joked around about how the recession was finally hitting the NFL ... but it wasn't that bad."

Johnson is playing well

Carolina defensive end Charles Johnson leads the Panthers with 7 1/2 sacks. He was a third-round pick in 2007 from Georgia.

"I've been very impressed with his ability to rush the passer," Smith said. "To have 7 1/2 sacks through 12 games is impressive."

Anderson back at end

Earlier in the season, Jamaal Anderson was splitting time at tackle and defensive end. With the development of tackle Vance Walker and the full recovery of tackle Peria Jerry from knee surgery, Anderson has been moved back exclusively to end.

"If I need to go back in there at tackle, I'll be ready," Anderson said.

Etc.

The Falcons have intercepted 16 passes this season. Of those 16 picks, defenders have returned six for 30-or-more yards. ... Kickoff specialist/punter Michael Koenen is tied for sixth in the league with 16 touchbacks on 65 kickoffs. ... With 86 career touchdowns, Gonzalez is one touchdown catch shy of tying Andre Reed (87) for 11th in league history.

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While I'd love to see Snelling in the game, giving Turner some rest--the game against the Panties should allow the Falcons to rest Snelling to have him at 100% for the last few regular season games and the playoffs. As noted by others, the natural grass field will probably be a mess, so why risk extending his downtime when not necessary?

As long as the game is well under control by the Falcons, I'd like to see Johnson and Smith get an opportunity for more than a token number of carries--haven't yet seen what they can bring to the table with a regular workload. FWIW: during training camp/pre-season I was more impressed with Dimitri Nance than Smith, but that ship has left the dock.

I really hope that the Falcons enjoy a blow-out win.

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Yeah let him rest for a little longer once he's back to 110% let him go against Seattle or New Orleans. He's a great 3rd down security blanket.

Ideally you'd like Snelling to play, banged up or not, because you have to try and keep Turner fresh for the playoffs. Losing Norwood early and Snelling missing time hurts that objective.

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Flying: The trip from FB to the ATL airport and back nearly equals the bus trip to Charlotte (one way)

Snelling: I will admit my mental state and let you know that at first glance, I thought the thread title said:

Jason Snelling gets closer to retiring from injury.

Thank goodness it's just a case of my chronic stupidity. ^_^

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