With question marks surrounding both Steven Jackson and Roddy White‘s availability in their upcoming game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, running back Jason Snelling‘s return is vital for a team that is short on playmakers at the moment.
Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith said that the 5-foot-11, 234-pound bruiser looks to be on track for a healthy return after suffering a concussion in the last game against the New York Jets on Oct. 7. Before his exit, Snelling took part in 20 offensive snaps and scored on a four-yard shovel pass from quarterback Matt Ryan.
As the Falcons continue to be blitzed by untimely and tragic injuries that have now caused them to lose one of their best playmakers in Julio Jones for the remainder of the season, Smith and his staff will need as many healthy bodies as they can get in shouldering the offensive load.
For the first time this season, there is a good chance that Ryan will have two new receivers in the lineup and won’t be throwing the ball to White or Jones, two guys many have dubbed as one of the best receiving duos in the NFL. Instead, Ryan’s most reliable target outside of Tony Gonzalez will be his slot receiver in Harry Douglas.
With the passing attack experiencing turbulence, Ryan and the high-flying Falcons may have to rely on a ground game to get things going. Unfortunately for the Falcons, not only will the Falcons may be without their top rusher in Jackson with a hamstring injury, but they are currently ranked 26th in rushing yards.
If Jackson is unable to go, it will be up to Jacquizz Rodgers and Snelling to once again try to revitalize a running game that has been scattered all over the place in their first five games of the year.
Snelling has been one of their best backs, who also happens to be their most physical back, with Rodgers being the more elusive and athletic running back of the group.
Snelling’s return will be a huge lift against a Buccaneers defense that is much improved from last season. Although the Buccaneers are winless at 0-5, the 1-4 Falcons have struggled to win games, even against teams that they should defeat.
The Falcons will need both Rodgers and Snelling to play their “A” game, and Snelling’s return will definitely be a boost to a team that has been terrible in the red zone this year.