Falcons need a healthy Jerry to improve on D

At times, it's tough to judge a rookie's contributions. Never was that moreso than with Atlanta DT Peria Jerry who was making those around him better with his play, but was lost in the second week of the season to a knee injury. How he recovers and his overall health are the keys to how good the Falcons can be on defensive in 2010...

Currently, Jerry is working through a rigorous rehab program at the Falcons' facility in Flowery Branch, focusing on flexibility and strength.

ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas reported that Jerry suffered torn ligaments in his knee, but did not tear his ACL which could significantly cut down on the recovery time for the second-year defensive lineman.

Jerry's game has always been anchoring against the run while providing an inside push against the pass and that means his knees need to be ready to go in order for him to be successful.

The Falcons have not committed to a timetable for Jerry's return to team-related activities and he's likely to miss most of the mini-camps the team will run during the spring and early part of the summer. However, if he can return to action at some point during training camp in August there is a very good chance he could help a Falcons defense that allowed nearly 350 yards per game to rank 21st in the league.

His presence inside would allow LB Curtis Lofton, who had a Pro Bowl-caliber season, to roam free and make plays and his push up front should allow DE John Abraham to improve on his sack total, a stat that dropped from a league-leading 16.5 in 2008 to just 5.5 last year.

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