Falcons’ Roddy White, left, and quarterback Matt Ryan walk off the field after failing to convert a third down play during the second half of Sunday’s game against the Patriots. (Staff Photo: Jason Braverman)
ATLANTA — The bye week can’t come soon enough for the Atlanta Falcons. They have to play the New York Jets before it next Monday night at the Georgia Dome, though.
Injuries are a big part of Atlanta’s 1-3 start and they continued to mount in Sunday night’s 30-23 loss to New England.
Asante Samuel (thigh) warmed up, but couldn’t go. That left the Falcons without their best cornerback against Tom Brady.
Then Sam Baker’s left knee buckled again, forcing Lamar Holmes, who had lost his job at the other tackle to Jeremy Trueblood, into the game. Soon the pressure on Matt Ryan mounted.
Without Sean Weatherspoon (foot), the Falcons started two undrafted free agents at linebacker — Joplo Bartu and Paul Worrilow. Then Worrilow went out in the second half with a leg injury and so did Akeem Dent.
Of course, some Falcons defenders were already missing in action. That was particularly the case with Osi Umenyiora, the team’s key offseason addition on defense. He got no pressure on Tom Brady and neither did any of his teammates.
Central Gwinnett graduate Jonathan Massaquoi was listed as the starter at the other end, but the Falcons actually opened the game in a 3-4 defense.
Once Dent and Worrilow went out, Stephen Nicholas and Omar Gaither were forced into action. Robert McClain got the start in the secondary in place of Samuel, with rookie Robert Alford as the nickel back.
The defense will get Weatherspoon back in midseason and the offense could get running back Steven Jackson (calf) back as early as the Jets game. But the Falcons' lack of quality depth — a concern going into the season — has become obvious.