Top Players Hurting for Atlanta

Two of the Falcons' most productive players – one on offense and the other on defense – could be concerns for the team the whole season.

Two of Atlanta's top players are nursing injuries that could be somewhat restrictive in the short term and possibly problematic over the course of the season.

Tight end Alge Crumpler (knee surgery) and defensive tackle Rod Coleman (thigh surgery) have been cautiously managed in practice in order to get them on the field for the season-opener Sunday at Minnesota but to also guard against wear and tear for preservation.

Coach Bobby Petrino said Coleman had to have blood drained from his quadriceps Wednesday to relieve some swelling that arose. Coleman was able to go through a lengthy practice Thursday but he did not take a heavy dosage of reps and was ruled out of Sunday's game.

The Falcons had hoped to use Coleman in favorable situations against the Vikings — namely on passing downs.

As for Crumpler, his status could be up and down all season. Following spring surgery to repair cartilage damage and to remove debris that had caused discomfort for more than a year, the knee continues to flare up on occasion.

The frustrating development has left the team no other choice but to sit Crumpler for at least one practice a week to let things calm down so he can play on Sundays.

"He's going to be a guy we have to manage throughout the entire year," Petrino said.

NOTES

  • Though he hasn't had the greatest amount of success, Falcons quarterback Joey Harrington said playing in the Metrodome before will allow him not to be overcome by the legendary crowd noise.

    "I've heard that Viking horn and seen the fireworks when they score. I know what to expect. I know it's going to be loud. It is truly one of the loudest stadiums in this league and you have to be prepared for it. There is a bit of an advantage having played there before."

    The Falcons have been practicing with stadium noise blaring from loud speakers to get ready.

  • Harrington put an "L" on Minnesota last season when he played for the Dolphins. "We played them in Miami and we threw it around on them. They did a very good job of shutting down our run game. The two Williams (Pat, Kevin), they are very good players and you always have to take care of them."

  • The Falcons rushed for 285 yards the last time these teams met, Oct. 2, 2005 in the Georgia Dome. Ironically, tailback Warrick Dunn is the only member of Atlanta's team from that game who will play this Sunday. Michael Vick is suspended, Matt Schaub and T.J. Duckett were traded and Justin Griffith was not re-signed in the offseason.

  • QB Matt Schaub, who was traded to Houston before the 2007 season, took the majority of the snaps in the 2005 game with Minnesota. Vick suffered a knee injury after getting hit by Erasmus James after throwing a pass. Though Schaub threw nearly twice as many passes as Vick (14 vs. 8), Vick completed one more (6 vs. 5).

  • Linebacker Keith Brooking is the only member of the Falcons to have played in the 1998-1999 NFC Championship Game against Minnesota.

  • Former Falcons wide receivers coach George Stewart is the Vikings wide receivers coach.

  • The Falcons are tied with Pittsburgh for the current opening game win streak — 4.

    BY THE NUMBERS: 55 — The net weight gain from last season's offensive line (1,509) to this year (1,564).

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "In my mind, I'm really trying to please my dad, if anything, because he's going to watch the game and critique me more than these coaches. I hate to go home and have to hear him tell me about how I got ran over or I missed this tackle." — Falcons safety Jimmy Williams.


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