Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith had some encouraging words on the injury front when he met with the media Monday afternoon.
“We anticipate John will be back out practicing with us before the end of the week,” Smith said.
Abraham first injured his ankle in the final regular-season game and aggravated it in Sunday’s playoff victory against the Seattle Seahawks. Abraham left in the second quarter after playing only 15 snaps against the Seahawks.
The Falcons had to get by with Cliff Matthews playing 46 snaps and rookie Jonathan Massaquoi taking part in 14 plays. Matthews and Massaquoi both have potential, but neither has anything close to Abraham’s experience.
Having Abraham ready for the NFC Championship Game against San Francisco is crucial. Abraham has the athleticism to at least help the Falcons have a chance to slow quarterback Colin Kaepernick in the running game.
Abraham also is Atlanta’s only real pass-rushing threat. If he isn’t healthy, the Falcons likely would have to alter their defensive philosophy and make heavy use of the blitz to have any chance of putting pressure on Kaepernick.