I saved the Atlanta Falcons for last in today’s series of team-by-team mailbags. The entire reason for that was because many of your questions were about the injury situation. That’s why I waited for the Falcons to send me their injury report from this afternoon’s practice to give you the latest information available.
Jeff in Atlanta writes: Is there any word on Sean Weatherspoon and Dunta Robinson for this week? Both have proved their worth in this D and I think we are finally starting to show our true potential with them healthy.
Pat Yasinskas: Robinson went through practice fully Thursday afternoon, so I’d say that’s a pretty strong sign he’ll play Sunday. On the flip side, Weatherspoon did not practice and I’m guessing that means he’ll be out at least another week. Weatherspoon definitely brings an element of speed, but Stephen Nicholas isn’t a bad alternative. Having Robinson back is bigger because the Falcons don’t have another cornerback near his level.
David in Bensenville, Ill., writes: I know people have been asking why haven't the Falcons taken more shots down the field, why doesn't Mike Mularkey air it out? Well on the flip side, the blue print to beating the Saints was keep the offense watching on the bench. Is it wrong to keep doing that? What is wrong with wearing down a defense? The offensive line benefits and the defensive lines gets gassed. So I ask you, do you believe it is in the best interest for Atlanta to "air it out" when the blue print to beat one of the best teams in the league is pound, pound, pound?
Pat Yasinskas: Excellent point and the Falcons certainly followed that blueprint when they beat the Saints in New Orleans. But every opponent is different and I think the Falcons still are tweaking their offense a little to find the right balance. At times, they’ve been very good in the running game. At times, they’ve been very good in the passing game. My personal opinion is this is an offense that is very close to clicking on all cylinders and I think one way to finalize that would be to take just a few more shots down the field each game.
David in Atlanta writes: When will the NFC South get the respect it deserves from the media? It's currently the only division with three five-win teams. Where's the love from your colleagues?
Pat Yasinskas: Well, you know I’m always writing about the NFC South, but I think the rest of the world is starting to catch on. I think there’s going to be some national attention on Sunday’s first-place showdown between the Falcons and the Buccaneers. A lot of times, I’m on the road alone. But I already know for a fact that ESPN.com is bringing out the big gun for this game. John Clayton’s going to be sitting next to me in the Georgia Dome. I know of at least two other friends in the national media who are headed to Atlanta this weekend.
Jamie in Atlanta writes: After the Falcons have continued to try and improve the defense why do you think they are still ranked as low as 27th in opp passing yards? I this something us Falcon fans should be worried about? I just feel that if we can sure up this pass D then the season would be the Falcon's to lose.
Pat Yasinskas: Opposing passing yards sometimes can be deceiving. When you’re winning, that means other teams are playing from behind and passing the ball more than they’d like. With Robinson healthy and the pass rush showing up, I wouldn’t be too worried about this particular statistic.