Injuries around NFL won't alter Dan Quinn's approach for Falcons

Falcons head coach Dan Quinn has some decisions to make on playing time for his starters in the third preseason game. AP Photo/Peter Morgan

Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Quinn talked about how bummed he was to see two high-caliber wide receivers -- Carolina's Kelvin Benjamin and Green Bay's Jordy Nelson -- go down with significant injuries.

Quinn was headed into a meeting Sunday when he heard about Nelson's misfortune against the Steelers.

"Just from us going against him, man, the respect that we have for guys who do it as well as it can be done, and Jordy is certainly one," Quinn said of Nelson, a player he faced in last year's playoffs while the defensive coordinator in Seattle.

So do such major injuries like the season-ending ACL suffered by Benjamin alter Quinn's approach toward playing key players in the preseason?

"I don't know if it changes the mindset, but it something that's always at the front of our thinking just because we know in this profession that's part of the game, but it sucks, man," Quinn said. "It's a bummer for them, for him, and for his team. We know it's part of how it goes."

Quinn was pressed on the value in playing guys such as Matt Ryan and Julio Jones extended reps during the preseason. Ryan, Jones, and the first-team offense is likely to play at least a half in Saturday's third preseason game at Miami. The third preseason game usually is viewed as the dress rehearsal for the regular season.

"Well, it's going to be on a case-by-case basis how much and how long that we put the guys in," Quinn responded. "Really as we're going through it, just trying to see us function in our system, both offensively and defensively, to help us to get ready to play at our best. That's why certain guys play a little more; certain guys play a little less. That's the real challenge and balance that I face, as a coach, to say, `OK, how do we get from where our readiness is there to play at our best' compared to 'OK, I wish I had done more to get ready.' "

Quinn has decisions to make with his top two running backs, Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, coming off hamstring strains. Both missed the first two preseason games, and the Falcons haven't really gotten their running game going with the new outside zone blocking scheme. Surely Quinn and the coaches want to see how the scheme functions with Freeman and Coleman running in it.

Defensive starters William Moore (calf), Desmond Trufant (shoulder), and Ra'Shede Hageman (concussion) are progressing off their respective injuries, but the temptation might be to hold them back so they are fully healthy for the Sept. 14 opener against the Eagles. Quinn said he hopes Moore will start running this week, while Hageman continues to go through the concussion protocol and has not yet been cleared for practice. Trufant vowed to be ``ready to go to war'' in Week 1.

Veteran receiver Roddy White's body made the decision easy for Quinn. White has to undergo minor arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow to address swelling he experienced last week. However, Quinn said White will be ready for the season opener.

Running back Antone Smith is another key player recovering from injury after tweaking his hamstring. He hasn't practiced since suffering the injury in the first preseason game against Tennessee. Reserve offensive lineman Peter Konz will undergo arthroscopic knee surgery Monday coming off last year's ACL surgery. And Quinn said the injury suffered by newly added running back Evan Royster against the Jets shouldn't keep Royster from playing this week.