2. Defensive Players Returning From Injury
The Falcons were decimated early on last season when Deion Jones, Keanu Neal, and Ricardo Allen were all sidelined with season-long injuries. Deion did return for the very end of the season. Grady Jarrett was even sidelined for a few games early in the season. Injuries are apart of the game, but injuries to three to four of your best defensive players will cripple almost any team. The Falcons were no expectation.
Grady Jarrett and Deion Jones did return last season. Jarrett for most of the season, and Jones for the very end of the season. Jones had an immediate impact upon his return to his middle linebacker role. The Falcons defense improved drastically, leading to a flurry of wins to end the regular season. However, the gaping hole that was left when Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen were missing could not be replaced so easily.
The Falcons are still easing Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen back into action leading to the regular season. Both were held out in Miami for questionable field conditions. Both players were back on the field in the next preseason game, with the Jets, both recording a tackle in their time in the game. The Falcons defense is completely different when these two are lurking in the back of the Falcons defense. Expect to see a full Falcons defense back together when September 8th rolls around.