After we put what little there was remaining of some sort of Colin Kaepernick debate to rest (DIE DIE DIE), this became a Sunday morning with very few serious, last minute injury decisions. And you know, that’s kind of nice, because now when Yahoo crashes in about an hour you’ll have no reason to say awful words and speak of death. You’re welcome?
As usual, we’ll have our roundup of the remaining notable actives and inactives shortly once the list becomes official. But for now, please note that as anticipated, we expect a positive decision on one of the few lingering injuries with a significant fantasy impact. Namely, Julio Jones will play.
That’s the word according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, who reported earlier this morning that the Falcons’ receiver who’s been dealing with an ankle injury and was listed as questionable after he was unable to make it through Atlanta’s win oer Arizona last week will play. That’s terrific, but it’s news that still comes with a bit of uncertainty, which sucks.
A healthy Jones who’s in uniform and in the lineup doesn’t necessarily mean that he’ll be featured prominently. He missed Wednesday’s practice, and was limited Thursday and Friday, so his ankle injury is quite obviously still causing a problem. It’s a problem to the point that last week Jones appeared in only 35 of the Falcons’ 73 offensive snaps, and as NFL.com’s Jeff Darlington reported yesterday, there’s a possibility that concern over this injury that’s bothered Jones for two weeks could lead to limited usage again today.
Darlington reported that the “pace of the matchup” today against Tampa would dictate how much we see Jones this afternoon. That’s coach speak for how close the game is, and what kind of offensive situations emerge. And when we look at how this matchup breaks down, there a strong possibility that even a limited Jones who sees far fewer snaps than a healthy Jones could still be very effective.
First, there’s the still staunch Bucs run defense, a unit that will repeatedly stuff the still old and still slow Michael Turner. Tampa’s allowing only 81.8 yards per game on the ground, a presence that will force the ball into Matt Ryan’s hands, and by extension also the hands of his targets.
When that happens, a glaring weakness will be exploited again and again, as the Bucs’ secondary resides on the opposite extreme when compared to their front seven. Now playing without Aqib Talib, Tampa is quite simply the worst against the pass, allowing 312.6 yards per game. That will lead to red-zone situations which require Jones’ leaping ability, allowing him to optimize his possibly limited snaps in scoring situations.
There’s uncertainty here, as there is with any player who’s dealing with a lingering, nagging injury. But the situation and matchup will make Jones the ideal boom/bust option who’s usage could come primarily when the end zone nears in a game kept close by the effectiveness of the Bucs’ run defense.
Roll with him as you normally would, but be prepared for either extreme, with a lean to booming rather than busting. Hope: it’s still all we have.