Falcons vs. Jaguars: Inside Slant

Find out the keys to the game, the key injuries, and the preparation for this week 2 matchup.

Atlanta Falcons (0-1) at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1)
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 9/16/07
TV: FOX, Ron Pitts, Tony Boselli, Buck Lanford
SERIES: Fourth meeting. Jaguars lead series, 2-1. The Falcons won the last meeting, which took place in 2003. Petrino was Jacksonville's quarterbacks coach when the Jags defeated Atlanta 30-7 in 1999.

PREDICTION: Jaguars 20-10

KEYS TO THE GAME: After allowing Tennessee to rush for 282 yards last Sunday, the Jaguars know what they'll see from upcoming opponents. It's a copycat league, and the Falcons will no doubt try to replicate the Titans' game plan of spreading the field with three and four receivers and then running the ball. The Jaguars need their defensive linemen to win more one-on-one matchups, while the Falcons have also talked all week about taking a few more shots downfield. ... That's how many defenders the Falcons will stack in the box until Jaguars QB David Garrard proves he can move the ball through the air to his mediocre group of receivers. Falcons CB DeAngelo Hall can shut down one side of the field, allowing Atlanta to focus on RBs Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew. Jacksonville desperately needs to get the ground game untracked after its 1-2 backfield punch combined for 48 yards in the opener.


FAST FACTS: Falcons coach Bobby Petrino was on the Jaguars' coaching staff from 1999-2001. ... Taylor needs 471 rushing yards to reach 10,000 in his career.

      --FS Chris Crocker did not practice again and is not expected to play Sunday at Jacksonville. Jimmy Williams will start.

      --There has been no official update regarding the condition of defensive tackle Rod Coleman, who had surgery to remove debris under his kneecap last Friday. However, Coleman is said to be walking fine and could begin some form of football-related activity next week

      --TE Alge Crumpler was held out of practice, which has been and will be customary on Thursdays to relieve the wear and tear on his left knee, on which he had arthroscopic surgery in February.

      --QB Joey Harrington walked East Lake East Lake Golf Club with cousin Padraig Harrington, who is competing in the Tour Championship this week in Atlanta. Joey Harrington took backup quarterbacks Chris Redman and Casey Bramlet with him.

      --DE Jamaal Anderson, the team's first-round draft pick, was so productive in preseason that the Vikings double-teamed him on runs and passes in last week's loss at Minnesota.

      "We were joking about after the Cincinnati (preseason) game that I was going to start getting double-teamed," Anderson said. "I didn't expect it by Game 1 for it to start happening. So that just means I've got to work a little harder to try and get the rough double teams now. I guess it's a compliment to what I was doing in the preseason, but the preseason doesn't mean anything. When it comes to the regular season, it's about going out and making plays. If I'm taking double-teams, that means my teammates are open and I'm helping them make plays.

      "I thought I was going to be singled up most of the game. They did a lot of max protection to where they had two players to my side when I was rushing. During the run they had a lot of double teams. That was a surprise."

      --DT Marcus Stroud missed practice with a shin injury. His condition will be updated Friday.

      --DE Reggie Hayward was limited in practice Thursday. He's still recovering from a torn Achilles tendon. His condition will be updated Friday.

      --DE Bobby McCray was limited in practice Thursday with an elbow injury. His condition will be updated Friday.

      --DT John Henderson was limited in practice Thursday with a thigh injury. His condition will be updated Friday.

      --WR Reggie Williams was limited in practice Thursday with a back injury. His condition will be updated Friday.

      Outside linebacker Demorrio Williams might start Atlanta's game at Jacksonville Sunday, but that doesn't mean he will finish.

      Coach Bobby Petrino said Williams and rookie Stephen Nicholas are being prepared to play the weak-side spot, just as they both did last week in the Falcons' 24-3 loss to Minnesota last week. Williams started but was pulled in favor of Nicholas, a fourth-round draft pick, who played the second half.

      The plan was for things to unfold as they did in terms of Nicholas stepping in for Williams, Petrino indicated. Both players said they were taken by surprise when the switch came.

      Neither appears to be looking back, though.

      Williams, who had four tackles at Minnesota, said he thinks he shook off the rust that accrued during the months away from the football field, rehabilitating from torn pectorals surgery.

      "I didn't really get started," he said. "I didn't get my hands on anybody and whenever you play a game like that, when you feel you haven't hit anybody, you ain't tackled nobody, you feel like you ain't doing nothing right. Hopefully this game, I can get an early start, get myself going early."

      Nicholas, who had five tackles vs. the Vikings, said he is planning on playing special teams only but that he would be ready should the coaches call on him. The South Florida product said he gained a measure of comfort and confidence replacing Williams in the starting lineup during the offseason and most of preseason.

      "The preseason definitely helped," Nicholas said. "Every time you get experience it's going to help. Whether it helps now or help later, getting that experience helps."

      The Jaguars receivers are having so much trouble catching the ball that some fans have suggested that they should give Pro Bowl cornerback Rashean Mathis a shot at the position.

      When a fan asked coach Jack Del Rio about the possibility when he phoned into his radio show this week, he brushed it off by saying the Jaguars always consider all options.

      Mathis is all for the idea and says he'd have no trouble seeing some duty at wide receiver.

      "I'm a long winded person. I always tell the guys that I have three lungs. Tired is not something I pride myself in getting. I always joke with the receivers that I can catch better than they can. I'm not saying I can. I always joke with them," he said.

      Meanwhile, the Jaguars are continuing to have injury problems, especially in their defensive line that was shredded by Tennessee last Sunday.

      Defensive tackle Marcus Stroud, who practiced Wednesday, didn't practice Thursday. And defensive end Reggie Hayward saw limited action.

      Stroud was listed as having a shin injury while Hayward is coming back from a torn Achilles tendon.

      Also limited were defensive tackle John Henderson with a thigh injury and defensive end Bobby McCray with an elbow injury. And wide receiver Reggie Williams was limited with a back injury.

      Defensive tackle Tony McDaniel (knee) and safety Gerald Sensabaugh (shoulder) were limited for the second straight day.

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