UPDATE (6:02 p.m. ET): Resume normal human breathing, Falcons fans. ProFootballTalk is citing multiple sources who are saying encouraging words regarding the state of Abraham’s ankle. The initial diagnosis is positive, and it’s believed that he avoided a serious injury. It’s still too early to make any bounding leaps at conclusions, but with the bye week to rest it’s looking like Abraham will be healthy for the divisional round of the playoffs.
Each year as the season winds down at least one and sometimes several teams are subjected to the rest vs. rust debate, an eternal discussion with no answer, and therefore it’s perfect ESPN programming. But that’s not the only problem, as there’s an opportunity for low-hanging hindsight narrative.
If a player is injured in a meaningless Week 17 game, we can cry out in horror and say “SEE WE SAID NOT TO PLAY STARTERS! WHY WON’T YOU LISTEN TO US YOU WORTHLESS SCUM?!?”.
If starters are sat down during the final week and then the team in question doesn’t show up in the playoffs and is ousted early, we can say “SEE RESTING STARTERS IS STOOOOPID!”. It’s perfect, really…if you thoroughly enjoy the soothing sounds of your own voice.
Well, now at least one of those mouth breathing groups is happy. After Mike Smith said — or at least strongly hinted — that he’d play his starters throughout a meaningless game today against the Bucs after the Falcons clinched both a bye and home-field advantage in the NFC, defensive end John Abraham needed to be helped off the field by two trainers in the fourth quarter after suffering a leg injury. He was examined and then taken to the locker room in a cart, and this came after cornerback Dunta Robinson left the game earlier with a head injury. Losing either is massive, but losing both would be absolutely crushing. Luckily, the Falcons have a bye week to mend, and now they’ll really need it.
It’s too early to say how serious Abraham’s injury is, but it certainly didn’t look good, as he may have been Wes Welker’ed. Atlanta has only 29 sacks this year (tied for 26th), and Abraham has accounted for 10 of them.