2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Falcons hoping for run support vs. Bucs RB Martin

    2012-11-23 16:37

(Eds: Updates with quotes, details. With AP Photos.)
By GEORGE HENRY
Associated Press

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) - This might not be the best time for the Atlanta Falcons' defense to face Tampa Bay running back Doug Martin, not with Sean Weatherspoon, Asante Samuel and Peria Jerry nursing injuries.

It's Week 12 of the NFL season, though, and no team has a completely healthy roster.

The problem for Atlanta could be matchup issues against a Buccaneers offense that, over the last six weeks, leads the NFL with a 34.2 scoring average.

Without Weatherspon, Samuel and Jerry, the Falcons (9-1) would be missing starters at middle linebacker, left cornerback and nose tackle on Sunday at Tampa Bay (6-4).

Considering how well Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman is syncing with receivers Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams, the Falcons still have one top priority - to stop Martin and prove that they're not as bad as the whopping 5.2 yards per carry they've allowed over the last two games.

Atlanta gave up runs of 40 and 52 yards to Arizona's LaRod Stephens-Howling in last week's narrow win at the Georgia Dome. In a loss two weeks ago at New Orleans, Chris Ivory broke off a 56-yard TD run.

``We've had a few more balls get on the second level of the defense, so the secondary has been challenged a little bit more,'' Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan said. ``That's a concern because they don't always come clean all of the time. Sometimes we miss some plays in the backfield, and that's concerning. But then when they get on the second level, a secondary's guy has a job to do. He's got to be a good tackler.''

Samuel, right-side starting cornerback Dunta Robinson and safeties Thomas DeCoud and William Moore have had mixed results in run support. Sometimes they knock ball carriers down, sometimes they whiff.

``Everybody gives up 5-, 10-yard gains,'' Nolan said. ``But when you're missing two and three tackles at 10 yards, and then they keep going, that's a concern.''

Martin will be the first running back Atlanta has faced this season that's been playing at an elite level for several weeks. The former Boise State standout has 1,019 yards from scrimmage over the last six games, helping him join Eric Dickerson (1983, Los Angeles Rams) and Edgerrin James (1999, Indianapolis) as the only rookies with at least 1,000 yards from scrimmage in a six-game span.

``He's a pretty powerful young guy running the ball,'' Falcons linebacker Mike Peterson said. ``I think he breaks a lot of tackles because of his size, so we're definitely going to have to gang tackle him and run to get to the ball.''

Atlanta coach Mike Smith was pleased that Weatherspoon and Samuel returned to practice Friday, even it was in a limited role.

Though Jerry misses his third straight practice with a quadriceps injury, all three starters are listed as questionable for Sunday. Reserve defensive tackle Vance Walker (ribs) is listed as questionable, too.

A right ankle sprain has sidelined Weatherspoon for the last three games. He returned to practice on Wednesday, but missed Thursday's session with an undisclosed illness.

Samuel is nursing a sore shoulder after he and Jerry were injured in last week's home win over Arizona.

Two other defensive starters, right end John Abraham (back) and Jonathan Babineaux (neck), are listed as probable after fully participating on Friday.

Containing Martin, who ranks fourth in the NFL with 1,000 yards rushing, won't be easy.

``He's a very good back,'' Nolan said. ``He reminds me a lot of (Ray) Rice at Baltimore. He's very comparable. He does a great job out of the backfield (catching passes) and does a great job in the backfield (running the football). He breaks a lot of tackles. He's sturdy. He's strong. He's tough. He runs hard. We're all very impressed with him.''

---

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

---

Follow George Henry at http://www.twitter.com/georgehenryAP

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

D.J. WilliamsAug 22 05:12p

Free-agent DT Anthony McCloud (Cardinals), WR Jabin Sambrano (Falcons), DT Marcus Forston (Patriots), TE D.J. Williams (Patriots) and DE James Ruffin (Buccaneers) all cleared waivers Friday, Aug. 22.

Damien WilliamsAug 22 04:58p

Miami Dolphins RB Damien Williams has leapfrogged RBs Daniel Thomas and Mike Gillislee on the depth chart.

Jalil BrownAug 22 03:22p

The Miami Dolphins released CB Jalil Brown Friday, Aug. 22.

Michael EgnewAug 22 03:02p

The Miami Dolphins waived TE Michael Egnew Friday, Aug. 22.

Emmanuel SandersAug 22 11:22a

Denver Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders (quadriceps) had a full practice Thursday, Aug. 21, and he could play in his first preseason game Saturday, Aug. 23.

Isaac RedmanAug 22 10:52a

Free-agent RB Isaac Redman (back) said he is no longer able to play football after suffering a spinal cord injury in 2013.

Christian PonderAug 22 10:42a

Minnesota Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater is entrenched as the No. 2 quarterback, and the team is confident with him there. QB Christian Ponder could be traded if he performs [ More ]

Brandon BostickAug 22 08:22a

Updating a previous report, Green Bay Packers TE Brandon Bostick (leg) has a slight fracture of his fibula and could return by Week 2 or Week 3.

Sean SpenceAug 22 01:02a

Pittsburgh Steelers LB Sean Spence (knee) and Jason Worilds (knee) are not expected to have suffered serious knee injuries during the team's preseason game Thursday, Aug. 21, according to sources.

Doug MartinAug 22 12:52a

Tampa Bay Buccaners RB Doug Martin was called the team's 'bell cow' running back by head coach Lovie Smith.

Heath MillerAug 22 12:42a

Pittsburgh Steelers TE Heath Miller had a team-high five catches for 53 yards, including a 27-yard touchdown reception, in the team's preseason game Thursday, Aug. 21.

Nick FolesAug 22 12:12a

Philadelphia Eagles QB Nick Foles completed 19 of 29 passes for 179 yards with one touchdown and one interception during the team's preseason game Thursday, Aug. 21. He led [ More ]

LeSean McCoyAug 21 11:42p

Philadelphia Eagles RB LeSean McCoy (thumb) said he expects to be ready for the regular season after spraining his right thumb during the team's preseason game Thursday, Aug. 21.

Sammy WatkinsAug 21 10:22p

Buffalo Bills WR Sammy Watkins (ribs) did not participate in team drills during practice Thursday, Aug. 21, and he has not been cleared to play in the team's preseason game Saturday, Aug. 23.

Max StarksAug 21 09:32p

Arizona Cardinals OT Max Starks (ankle), LB Kevin Minter (pectoral) and OG Jonathan Cooper (toe) did not practice Thursday, Aug. 21.

Brandin CooksAug 21 09:12p

New Orleans Saints WR Brandin Cooks (illness) returned to practice on a limited basis Thursday, Aug. 21, and he is questionable for the team's preseason game Saturday, Aug. 23, [ More ]

Victor ButlerAug 21 09:12p

New Orleans Saints CB Rod Sweeting (undisclosed) and LB Victor Butler (undisclosed) did conditioning work on the side with trainers during practice Thursday, Aug. 21.

LeSean McCoyAug 21 09:02p

Philadelphia Eagles RB LeSean McCoy's (thumb) X-rays on his right thumb came back negative, but he will not return to the team's preseason game Thursday, Aug. 21.

Jeremy MaclinAug 21 08:52p

Philadelphia Eagles WR Jeremy Maclin (knee) walked off the field under his own power after falling and clutching his right knee during the team's preseason game Thursday, Aug. 21.

LeSean McCoyAug 21 08:32p

Philadelphia Eagles RB LeSean McCoy (thumb) left the team's preseason game Thursday, Aug. 21, and went to the locker room for X-rays on his right thumb.

Le'Veon BellAug 21 07:52p

Pittsburgh Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell started against the Philadelphia Eagles Thursday night as he waits for a possible suspension after being charged for driving under the influence and marijuana possession.

Kenny BrittAug 21 07:32p

St. Louis Rams WR Kenny Britt (shoulder) may sit out of the team's preseason game against the Cleveland Browns Saturday, Aug. 23, with a shoulder injury. Britt did practice this week, however.

William HayesAug 21 07:32p

St. Louis Rams WR Jordan Harris (undisclosed), LB Pat Schiller (undisclosed), DE Sammy Brown (calf), DT Matt Conrath (undisclosed), DE William Hayes (undisclosed) OG Barrett Jones (back) and C [ More ]

J. VanderveldeAug 21 06:22p

Philadelphia Eagles WR Josh Huff (shoulder), RB Chris Polk (hamstring), WR Brad Smith (undisclosed), CB Brandon Boykin (leg), LB Jake Knott (hamstring) and C Julian Vandervelde (back) are not [ More ]

Reggie WayneAug 21 05:32p

Indianapolis Colts WR Reggie Wayne (knee) is a game-time decision against the New Orleans Saints Saturday, Aug. 23, according to head coach Chuck Pagano.

Darnell DockettAug 21 05:12p

Arizona Cardinals DT Darnell Dockett (knee) was placed on Reserve/Injured Thursday, Aug. 21.

Fendi OnobunAug 21 05:12p

Jacksonville Jaguars TE Fendi Onobun (knee) has cleared waivers and was placed on Reserve/Injured Thursday, Aug. 2.

Mike CaussinAug 21 05:12p

Washington Redskins TE Mike Caussin (undisclosed) was placed on Reserve/Injured Thursday, Aug. 21.

Isaiah PeadAug 21 05:12p

St. Louis Rams RB Isaiah Pead (knee) has cleared waivers and was placed on Reserve/Injured Thursday, Aug. 2.

Joe MaysAug 21 04:42p

Kansas City Chiefs LB Joe Mays (wrist) will have surgery on his wrist, according to a source. Mays was hurt in last week's preseason game against the Carolina Panthers. [ More ]

Eric WeemsAug 21 04:02p

The Atlanta Falcons signed free-agent WR Eric Weems (Bears) Thursday, Aug. 21. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Manti Te'oAug 21 03:42p

San Diego Chargers OG Jeromey Clary (shoulder, hip), WR Vincent Brown (calf), LB Manti Te'o (foot), DT Sean Lissemore (ankle), SS Jahleel Addae (hamstring), DE Lawrence Guy (shoulder) and [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group