The Atlanta Falcons continue to look like a MASH unit when it comes to injuries. Two of the four players mentioned in this post have been on the injury report nearly every week of the season, but the two new additions are perhaps of greater concern.
Tony Gonzalez, TE, (toe): Gonzalez injured a toe in his left foot in Week 10, and appeared to be in serious discomfort immediately afterward. He exited the game briefly, but managed to return, fighting through the pain but struggling on the field. Gonzalez, who was visibly limping in the locker room after the game, netted only 29 yards on three catches. It came as little surprise that he was held out of practice Wednesday, but when he remained out on Thursday, the questions after practice understandably turned to whether his status for Sunday was in jeopardy.
"I would never count Tony Gonzalez out," Falcons coach Mike Smith said. "Never."
Smith's reaction is understandable, perhaps, given that Gonzalez has not missed a game since 2006. In fact, he's missed only two in his entire career. File that under the category of "ridiculously healthy player," at any position. The Falcons have not revealed much related to the specifics of the future Hall of Famer's injury, but their official Twitter account reported that Smith "hopes to see him on the field [Friday]." Until Friday comes, there will be no indication as to whether Gonzalez might miss Sunday's game, but fantasy owners should at least prepare for that possibility.
Roddy White, (shoulder), and Harry Douglas (knee), WRs: Might the Falcons also be without their most consistent wide receiver on Sunday? With White missing more time this season than ever before in his NFL career, and Julio Jones out for the year since injuring his foot in Week 5, Douglas has taken on an expanded role. But Douglas was a no-show at practice Thursday, listed on the injury report with a knee issue after participating as usual on Wednesday. Given that the team has issued virtually no information on the topic, it's hard to know how serious the injury is. But if Douglas were to be forced out on Sunday, it makes sense the Falcons would lean on the now presumably healthy White.
Not so fast. White is back on the injury report this week, not because of his hamstring or ankle but because of his shoulder. He was listed as a limited participant both Wednesday and Thursday, but the fact he was at least there on consecutive days is a plus. The Falcons would understandably limit him in order to have him out there against the Buccaneers Sunday. Douglas is ranked No. 40 in Eric Karabell's Flex ranks this week, with White at No. 84.
Steven Jackson, RB, (toe): Then there is Jackson, who missed four games with a hamstring injury earlier this year. He appeared on Wednesday's injury report as a limited participant due to a toe injury. His ailment does not seem to be of the same severity as that of Gonzalez; Jackson upgraded to full practice on Thursday, and appears on track to play. The bigger concern -- to fantasy owners, at least -- might be whether this will influence the Falcons' stated goal of trying to get Jackson the ball more each game. An injured toe could certainly be a limiting factor, although it won't matter much if the Falcons have to continue to play catch-up through the air. If that's the case, they have to hope they have their trio of top pass-catchers -- Gonzalez, Douglas and White -- on the field, even if they're functioning at less than 100 percent.