The Falcons have been battered by injuries this season and could really use some positive news heading into their Week 8 meeting with the Arizona Cardinals. Signs seem to be pointing to at least one key offensive starter getting back in the action.
Steven Jackson, RB (hamstring): Last week coming off the bye, Jackson had still not been cleared to practice. In fact, his first day of practice was Wednesday of this week and that was limited. Yet the plan is for Jackson to return to action Sunday.
It’s interesting that we’ve heard he would not return until he was 100 percent, a rationale that’s hard to dispute given the high rate of recurrence for these injuries and his aforementioned risk factors. But what is 100 percent? We can’t prove that an athlete has fully recovered by a particular imaging test. There might be no lingering evidence of any tearing of the muscle or even any inflammation, but that doesn’t guarantee the muscle is capable of maximum performance. Nor can we prove that an athlete has fully recovered by a particular on-field test. He can run hard, stop, backpedal, change direction, sprint, sprint again and do well with all of those things. That still doesn’t ensure there are no setbacks when he is asked to perform in a game situation with the extra intensity of an adrenaline surge or the endurance demanded to last four quarters of football.
In Jackson’s case, a few days of limited practice don’t seem especially reassuring when it comes to his readiness to return. On the one hand, the downtime has helped keep his body fresh. On the other, his leg won’t truly be tested until he is in that game situation. In other words, Sunday, on the field, everyone -- including Jackson -- will find out just how far along his recovery is.
Roddy White, WR (hamstring/ankle): Now that White has missed a game for the first time in his career, perhaps it makes the decision to miss another somewhat easier. His ailing hamstring is no doubt making it difficult to argue for a return. White is still not practicing and there is no indication as of yet just when he might resume that activity. It was clear his presence was not especially helpful in the early part of the year when the high ankle sprain hampered his mobility. Perhaps that experience is the best motivator for White to stay off the field until he feels he can at least run and cut without limitation. This appears to be a week-to-week situation.