When Julio Jones went down earlier this season, it left us wondering who would fill his shoes in his absence. Roddy White was badly hobbled, and thus it seemed like the only receiver who could possibly step up was Harry Douglas, yet many “experts” were incredibly quick to write him off. They made it clear they weren’t expecting much from him and what was his response? Seven catches for 149 yards and a touchdown in his first appearance as lead dog.
His production has slowly tapered off each week since then, but I’m still not convinced it was because that one game was a fluke.
Douglas hasn’t scored a touchdown since that game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but his yardage has still been solid. He followed up that monster performance with 12 catches for 121 yards the next week, and going for 82 the week after that. Last week, he had seven receptions for 49 yards and it was his poorest output since the beginning of October.
What’s also worth pointing out is that his last three opponents were the Seattle Seahawks, Carolina Panthers and Arizona Cardinals, arguably three of the top five defenses in the league. The fact that he was able to at least come away with something in each of those speaks to how undervalued he is in my opinion.
This week, Douglas gets the Bucs again, the team he victimized with his breakout performance in Week 7. I would have been concerned about them making a point of shutting him down this time, if not for the fact that a healthy Roddy White is now in the picture. Seemingly over the injury hump at this point, White will probably be rewarded with shadow coverage from Darrelle Revis.
That means Douglas should once again be the prime target for Matt Ryan and work the middle of the field easily against a defense that’s been pretty bad lately.
The only real red flag with Douglas this week is that he missed some practice with a knee injury. He returned to practice on Friday and seems likely to suit up, but it’s not a guarantee. The feeling is that he’ll play, but double-check before kickoff to make sure. If he is indeed good to go, start him with confidence.