Jackson remains in Falcons' plans for Sunday

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

Atlanta coach Mike Smith said Wednesday he expects defensive tackle Grady Jackson to play Sunday against New Orleans.

There are a couple of reasons to expect that to happen. First, Smith is about as straight a shooter as you'll find in the NFL. He doesn't dance around questions and he flat-out said the Falcons are planning on having Jackson, who is appealing a suspension for reportedly testing positive for a banned substance, on Sunday. Second, the NFL generally announces suspensions on Mondays or Tuesdays. In other words, the league generally doesn't suspend a guy once he practices Wednesday and the protocol is to give a team an opportunity to sign someone else and get him some practice time.

A suspension still could be coming for Jackson, but, if Smith's words and the league's history mean anything, it wouldn't come until early next week. That's good news for the Falcons because Jackson is a run stuffer, who takes up a lot of space in the middle of the line.

Backups Kindal Moorehead and Jason Jefferson aren't bad players, but they're both about 40 pounds lighter than Jackson and don't have the size to tie up multiple blockers.