Chicago At Atlanta: 5 Things We Need To Know
A few weeks ago, it was Devin Hester’s world and the Atlanta Falcons were living in it.
After setting records for return touchdowns and having the opportunity to celebrate with his football idol, Deion Sanders, the sweet victory over his former head coach Lovie Smith and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was only slightly less exciting.
This week, the Chicago Bears come to town. Again, it could be a huge afternoon for No. 17. Playing against his old coach is one thing, but facing the former team is downright exciting.
Hester also recorded 217 receptions for 2,807 yards and 14 touchdowns in Chicago and became the first player in NFL history to return the opening kickoff of a Super Bowl for a touchdown, going 92 yards for the score in Super Bowl XLI, facing the Indianapolis Colts.
With all those years, stats and memories, of course Sunday's Week 6 matchup is going to be emotional for Hester. But as fast, elusive and dynamic as he is as a receiver/returner, he's as equally talented at managing his emotions, offering proper perspective on the contest against his former team.
"It’s going to be fun, kind of exciting," Hester said. "I’m so used to going against those guys in practice; it’ll be the first time for me to go against them live. (I’ve) been around those guys for a long time; so, it’s kind of like playing against your brother."
The Falcons are hoping Hester can give the team the same kind of performance he gave Atlanta in the 56-14 win over Tampa Bay. The Bears are a different team, one with more offensive firepower.
Here are some things you need to know about this game in Atlanta on Sunday.
DOUGLAS HAS BEEN RULED OUT
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Harry Douglas (foot) has been ruled out of Sunday's game against Chicago, marking the third straight game he will be sidelined.
Douglas injured his foot in a Week 3 win over Tampa Bay and after practicing as a full participant twice the following week and once as a limited participant has not participated since.
Wide receiver Devin Hester (hamstring) and guard Justin Blalock (back) were limited Friday and will be questionable for Sunday's game, but Coach Mike Smith has said all week that he expects Hester to play Sunday.
JONES CONTINUES TO IMPRESS
Jones’ 40 catches this season haven't been just routine grabs either, best highlighted by the one-handed grab Jones made against the New York Giants in Week 5. The reception made highlight reels as Jones went Spider-Man-like for the grab, flashing his left arm up in the blink of an eye, ultimately using his fingertips to help snatch the ball out of the air.
While the play was special for several reasons, including its degree of difficulty, it prevented a likely interception and it moved the sticks. Jones made the 9-yard reception look ridiculously easy, thanks in part to a specific offseason training regimen he has for his eyes and hands, which are more than 30 percent larger than the average male (9'3/4'').
PREPARING FOR FORTE
The one thing the Falcons have to be conscious of all game is the play of Matt Forte. The running back does it all in the Bears offense, running and catching the ball. While Jay Cutler and his receiving crew is one of the best in the NFL, Forte is still the focal point of the offense. According to the Falcons defensive coordinator, Mike Nolan, there has been improvements on the defensive side of the ball, despite the two straight losses since the Tampa Bay game.
FORTE RETURNS TO PRACTICE
Forte (coaches' decision) returned to practice Thursday, but injuries continue to sideline starting linebackers Lance Briggs (ribs) and Jon Bostic (back) in advance of Sunday’s road game against the Atlanta Falcons.
Neither Briggs nor Bostic have been ruled out yet for Week 6, according to Bears head coach Marc Trestman.
Linebacker Shea McClellin (hand), safety Ahmad Dixon (hamstring), center Taylor Boggs (hamstring) and left tackle Jermon Bushrod (knee/ankle) were also held out of Thursday’s session, while safety Chris Conte (concussion), linebacker D.J. Williams (neck) and cornerback Sherrick McManis (quadriceps) were limited.
Trestman said McClellin is “doubtful.”
This could be one of the better offensive games of the year. I thought that might be the case last week with the Falcons and the Giants. Watch this be an 80-point game. In the end, the Falcons defense is better and the home team holds the advantage,
ATLANTA 42 BEARS 38