The Atlanta Falcons announced their first injury report of the season today, ruling out wide receiver Devin Hester and linebacker Brooks Reed for the team’s regular-season-opener against the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday Night. Both Hester and Reed failed to practice this week as the former was nursing a turf toe injury and the latter had surgery on his groin last week. Hester is expected to miss at least one more game and possibly more due to his injury, while Reed is expected to miss an additional five weeks.
Otherwise the Falcons were at full health for Saturday’s practice. Several palyers that began the practice week on Thursday participating on a limited basis were all healthy by Friday’s practice and suffered no setbacks today. Linebacker Joplo Bartu (quadricep), running back Devonta Freeman (hamstring), offensive tackle Jake Matthews (back), safety Robenson Therezie (groin) and wide receiver Roddy White (elbow) all were listed as probable on the injury report.
Both Freeman and White’s injuries were suffered early in the preseason. Freeman did not play at all this summer, while White was sat after the first exhibition game to recover from elbow surgery.
In the absence of Hester, the Falcons will decide between Nick Williams, Eric Weems and Justin Hardy to fill in as the team’s primary returners against the Eagles. Williams got the bulk of the reps during the preseason, but Weems did serve as the Falcons’ main returner during his earlier stint with the team from 2009 to 2011. If Hardy is chosen, it’ll likely only be on punts where he had a 70-yard return during the preseason.
Reed is likely to be replaced by Kroy Biermann, who filled in at strong-side linebacker throughout the preseason when the former missed time. The team however lists O’Brien Schofield atop the depth chart at the position. Schofield had limited reps at linebacker in two preseason games, but his primary role will likely be as an edge-rusher in the team’s nickel sub-package.