Falcons not forgetting WR Harry Douglas

NEW ORLEANS -- Defensive tackle Peria Jerry isn’t the only injured player the Atlanta Falcons are expecting a breakout season from in 2011. You can add wide receiver Harry Douglas to that list.

Although we (and I’m talking virtually everyone in the media and fans) have been talking about how the Falcons need to add a speed receiver in the draft, they might already have their guy in place. General manager Thomas Dimitroff said the 2010 season wasn’t a full indicator of what Douglas can do and said his situation is very similar to Jerry’s.

Both players were coming back from major knee injuries and made minor impacts last season. Dimitroff and coach Mike Smith said they expect the impact of both players to be much greater this season.

Much has been made about how the Falcons didn’t have a lot of explosive passing plays last season, even though Douglas was part of that receiver corps. But Dimitroff said a fully-healthy Douglas could provide a big boost.

Douglas showed plenty of promise as a rookie in 2008, catching 23 passes and averaging almost 14 yards a catch. He then suffered a training-camp knee injury in 2009 and missed the entire season. Douglas was expected to come back and be a threat as slot receiver last season, but he got off to a slow start. Part of it was because starting receiver Michael Jenkins was injured and missed the first six games and that forced Douglas to have to do more than just be a slot receiver. Part of it also might have been because Douglas wasn’t 100 percent early in the season.

But Dimitroff said there were encouraging signs as last season went on.

“Just about halfway through the season, Harry was healed,’’ Dimitroff said. “There was no more issue there. I saw an increased explosiveness that I didn’t see in the beginning of the season and more confidence. We would have continued to throw to him and get him more and more involved if we had advanced in the playoffs. He understands this is also a big year for him.’’