Turner has high ankle sprain; Ryan, Norwood and Snelling must step up

Jay Glazer of FOXSports.com reports that Michael Turner has been diagnosed with a high ankle sprain, although the Falcons are apparently “very optimistic” that the injury won’t keep their star back out too long.

High ankle sprains can sideline players for as little as 2-3 weeks or as long as six months depending on the severity of the injury. In Turner’s case, it sounds like he’ll only be out a couple of weeks but who knows at this point. The Falcons will be fighting for a playoff spot the rest of the season, so it wouldn’t be surprising if Turner came back earlier than expected.

Atlanta has two capable backs in Jerious Norwood and Jason Snelling, although the former can never stay healthy. Norwood has battled concussions and a hip injury for much of the season and hasn’t spent a lot of time on the field.

When healthy, Norwood is a lighting rod and a threat to score every time he gets his hands on the ball, while Snelling looked good on Sunday in the team’s loss to the Panthers. He’s kind of a poor man’s Turner in that he’s a load to bring down, but he has surprising quickness and is a good receiver out of the backfield.

The Falcons could certainly do worse than a combination of Snelling and Norwood – much worse. But the problem is that if Norwood can’t stay healthy, Snelling isn’t the same back as Turner is. He’s more than serviceable, but he’s never been counted on to carry the full load, so Norwood has to recover quickly or else the Falcons’ season could slip away in a hurry.

Read the rest of this entry »

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Matt Ryan is officially in a sophomore slump

For anyone that has actually devoted some time watching Matt Ryan over the past month, it’s hard to argue that he doesn’t look like a completely different quarterback than he did last year – or even at the start of this season. He bails out of plays, he overthrows receivers and he looks frightened in the pocket.

It appears that the dreaded sophomore slump has officially sacked “Matty Ice.”

During the Falcons’ 28-19 loss to the Panthers on Sunday, Ryan looked uncomfortable for most of the first half. He threw a horrible interception just before halftime that led to a Carolina touchdown, which put Atlanta behind 21-10. Then late in the game with the Falcons needing a field goal to take the lead, he again was picked off after he forced a pass downfield to a double-covered Michael Jenkins.

In both cases, Ryan not only made poor throws, but poor decisions – something that didn’t plague him last season.

Of course, Ryan had nothing to do with Jason Elam missing a chip shot field goal one possession before the critical interception. Had Elam made the field goal, the Falcons would have had the opportunity to stop Carolina and eek out a much-needed division win. Instead, Elam shanked the kick like someone with money on the Panthers and put his team in an awful situation.

Getting back to Ryan, he really has no excuse for playing as poorly as he has, because the running game has been productive (unlike earlier in the season when the passing game had to carry the Falcons). Michael Turner (nine carries, 111 yards) suffered a high ankle sprain in the first half and couldn’t return, but Jason Snelling picked up the slack in his place and Ryan just couldn’t deliver. The running game should allow Ryan to make more plays in the passing game but he just hasn’t made the throws.

The Falcons have a great opportunity to earn a Wild Card in the NFC, but they can’t do it if Ryan continues to play as poorly as he has. He needs to rekindle the magic that helped him win the Rookie of the Year Award, or second half collapse for Atlanta is certainly possible.

As for the Panthers, they’re starting to get back to what they did last year: Run the ball and play good defense. It also helps when Jake Delhomme isn’t trying to give games away by throwing the ball to the other team and generally being useless.

With this win, the Panthers have gotten back into contention for the NFC Wild Card.

Update: Turner’s injury could be serious. If he’s out for any extended length of time, the Falcons’ season could be in danger, especially considering Jerious Norwood hasn’t played in weeks due to injuries.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Related Posts