* The Falcons continue to be coy with the health status of offensive tackle Jake Matthews. It sounds like he will not play on Sunday in Cincinnati. Matthews had a MRI Wednesday and was walking around in a boot at practice. So it seems they will not push Matthews with the ankle injury being something that could linger if he does not take care of it now.
* One thing to keep an eye on this week will be the two returners. We know Atlanta has a world-class returner in Devin Hester, who has the NFL record for punt returns for touchdowns with 13. Cincinnati has a good one too in Adam Jones. Yes, it’s Pac Man Jones.
Jones has five touchdowns in the 129 punt returns in his career. Hester has 13 touchdowns in 265 career punt returns. Jones does not like to fair catch his punt returns, as he has only 11 fair catches in his career. Hester has 79 fair catches in his career.
Jones, of course, may have to stop Hester with the Falcons using Hester on offense. Hester had 99 yards last week versus New Orleans and the Falcons are expected to continue to target the veteran on offense.
* Cincinnati hopes to have rookie cornerback Darqueze Dennard in the game. He’s missed almost a month with a hip injury.
* Former Georgia Bulldog Geno Atkins was listed as one of the five Bengals that did not participate Wednesday in practice. Atkins tore his ACL last season in Miami, but this injury has something to do with his feet. He was reportedly walking around in crutches earlier in the week.
* The Bengals placed tight end Tyler Eifert on the injured reserve list Wednesday. He’ll be out for about six weeks with an elbow injury. That’s a big loss for Cincinnati. They’ll also be without receiver Marvin Jones, who has a foot injury. Jones had 712 yards last year as their second-leading receiver.
* The Falcons will have to put pressure on Andy Dalton on Sunday to try and disrupt his rhythm. Dalton’s main receiver, former Bulldog A.J. Green, had 131 yards last week including a long 77-yard touchdown catch. The Falcons had only limited pressure on Drew Brees, but Dalton scrambles a bit less so maybe they can have more success this week. Green, by the way, was also limited in practice Wednesday with a foot issue, but he is expected to be ready to go Sunday against the Falcons.
* Cincinnati has five former UGA players on the roster. Along with Atkins and Green, offensive guard Clint Boling, defensive end Robert Geathers and safety Shawn Williams.
Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at http://www.foxsports1670.com/. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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