ATLANTA -- A thigh injury will keep Falcons cornerback Asante Samuel from playing against his former team on Sunday night.
Samuel tested the injury during pregame warmups but was declared inactive for the showdown with the undefeated Patriots. The same injury kept Samuel out of the season opener against the Saints.
With Samuel sidelined, Robert McClain is expected to start at left cornerback opposite right cornerback Desmond Trufant. McClain, the regular nickel back, could slide down to his normal position in nickel situations, with Robert Alford filling in at right cornerback. That's the alignment the Saints went with against the Saints, although Alford could find himself covering the slot receiver instead of lining up outside.
When Trufant and Alford are on the field together, expect Patriots quarterback Tom Brady to attack the rookie defensive backs. But the problem is, Brady is without Danny Amendola, who is sidelined with a groin injury. Tight end Rob Gronkowski (back/forearm) also is inactive, meaning Brady might have to rely on rookie receivers Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins again along with top target Julian Edelman.