Atlanta Falcons: Hester off IR, Hankerson on it


The Atlanta Falcons have announced WR/KR Devin Hester is coming off Injured Reserve, while simultaneously announcing that Leonard Hankerson‘s season is over.

The Atlanta Falcons announced Friday leading up to their Week 13 date with division rival Tampa Bay that wide receiver and kick returner extraordinaire Devin Hester would come off Injured Reserve.

This was wildly expected as Hester has not played for the Atlanta Falcons this season after dealing with a foot injury stemming from the preseason.

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At the same time, the Atlanta Falcons let us know that wide receiver Leonard Hankerson would go on season-ending IR after suffering a Week 11 hamstring injury in the Falcons’ home loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

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Hankerson who looked strong at the start of the year, emerging as quarterback Matt Ryan‘s number two passing option behind wide receiver Julio Jones, once again fell victim to a season ending injury.

The promising wideout out of Miami and former member of the Washington Redskins with current Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan continues to have his career sidelined by a myriad of injuries.

While it stinks to lose a receiving option like Hankerson, the Atlanta Falcons should feel glad to get back one of the most electric return men in NFL history in Devin Hester. The NFL’s all-time leader in return touchdowns helps give the Atlanta Falcons a more explosive part to their return game they otherwise did not have this season.

Though Eric Weems, a spectacular special teams player in his own right, performed well in place of Devin Hester, getting Devin Hester back could give the Falcons flight as they push for the NFC Playoffs.

Having Hester back also provides Matt Ryan with another familiar face in the receiving game. The only three receiving targets that played with Ryan in both the days of the Dirk Koetter Air Coryell offense and Kyle Shanahan’s West Coast system were wide receivers Julio Jones, Roddy White, and tight end Levine Toilolo.

Though Shanahan may not value Hester as a receiving threat like Koetter did in 2014, Atlanta needs some help in the passing game and Hester could potentially provide the Atlanta Falcons with some much-needed explosiveness in the receiving game. Hester doesn’t have the surest of hands or runs the best routes, but when he has the football in his hands, he’s great at making plays in space.

Next: Devonta Freeman: Difference maker in Week 13?

The Atlanta Falcons need to win down in Tampa on Sunday if they want to have a realistic shot at ending their two-year playoff drought. Going down 0-2 to Tampa Bay hurts the Falcons considerably if it comes down to tie-breaking procedures. Rise Up!