Atlanta Falcons: Who’s got to stay healthy for the Birds to be 2009 NFL playoff contenders?

Top draft pick Peria Jerry (94) suffered an injury during recent Falcons' mini-camp. (AJC)

Top draft pick Peria Jerry (94) suffered an injury during recent Falcons' mini-camp. (AJC)

The rumblings about Falcons PRE-preseason injuries have already started — where else? — in the Falcons Vent.

“When the season starts Jerry, Baker, and Abraham will be ready so quit grumbling” and “I hope that Jerry isn’t going to be the next Sam Baker … a 1st rounder who spends more time on injured reserve than in the game” turned up in the Sports Vent Guy’s email this morning.

Defensive tackle Peria Jerry suffered a mild right knee sprain during Saturday’s mini-camp and did not practice on Sunday. The Falcons’ first-round draft pick had arthroscopic surgery on the same knee last August to repair a torn meniscus.

Defensive end John Abraham and kicker Jason Elam joined defensive back Von Hutchins (broken foot), offensive lineman Alex Stepanovich (back) and cornerback David Irons (knee) were on the list of players being held out of mini-camp workouts this past Friday. Abraham had nerve, shoulder and neck ailments. He started all 17 games last season, but he left the game early against Carolina on Nov. 23.

And rookie left tackle Sam Baker underwent a discectomy — a surgical procedure on herniated disc material in his lower back in an attempt to relieve the pain in his hip — in October 2008. Baker started only five games for Atlanta last season. Baker took part in this spring’s mini-camp.

YOU TELL US: Looking down the road to the 2009 season, which Falcons do you think absolutely MUST remain healthy in order for Atlanta to repeat as a playoff team (or just to post back-to-back winning seasons, which hasn’t yet been done)? Is there anyone you’re particularly worried about, health-wise, based on past injury history?

45 comments Add your comment

terrell barron

May 12th, 2009
1:06 pm

Abraham, Baker, Trey Lewis.

waynester

May 12th, 2009
1:12 pm

How about an interview with coach Fish? He and the training staff did a fantastic job last season improving the team’s injury prevention regimin. P. Jerry is just getting into the system and Fish could provide some real insight…just a suggestion….GO BIRDS!!!

D Money

May 12th, 2009
1:28 pm

All the defensive starters need to stay healthy…we don’t have much that’s ready to come off the bench and make an impact.

Hollywould

May 12th, 2009
2:01 pm

I am not worried about any of them. It is spring/ who cares if some vets
don’t practice? Smart move I say. When July and August gets here and they start hitting then I will worry.

#1 Blank Fan`

May 12th, 2009
2:06 pm

Dare I state the obvious? Matt Ryan, Roddy White, Michael Turner and Tony Gonzo? With a serviceable defense this is a foursome that could carry our Birds all the way to the show!

Eston

May 12th, 2009
2:07 pm

How can anyone not be excited about our team this year????????????

VICK SUPPORTER 2

May 12th, 2009
2:13 pm

BETWEEN BAKER & JERRY, THEY MAY PLAY A TOTAL OF 3 GAMES COMBINED :) THIS IS TOO FUNNY. I MEAN JERRY WAS INJURY PRONE IN COLLEGE – YEAH THAT T.D. IS A GENIUS ALRIGHT.

BAKER + JERRY + ABRAHAM = 2007 SEASON RETRO :) RODDY MUST HAVE SHAKEN OFF 2007 & 2008 AND RETURNED TO HIS “BUTTER FINGER FORM”. KARMA IS A YOU-KNOW-WHAT. I CAN HARDLY WAIT.

GO FALCONS!

VICK SUPPORTER 2

May 12th, 2009
2:21 pm

THE FALCONS MAY BE LIKE THOSE DAN MARINO TEAMS. REMEMBER THEM? THE ONES THAT SCORED 30 POINTS A GAME, BUT GAVE UP 40 POINTS A GAME. I’M NOT A MATH MAJOR BUT THAT DOESN’T SOUND LIKE A FORMULA FOR VICTORY. GUESS THAT’S WHY MARINO LIT UP THE SCORE BOARD BUT NEVER WON A RING.

GO FALCONS!

Karl Childers

May 12th, 2009
2:25 pm

I reckon Mike Vick enjoys eating biscuits and mustard and dat potted meat in lock up like I did…..

mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm………………..

midnite

May 12th, 2009
2:37 pm

VS2 you are a pathetic excuse for a human, get over your fallen idol. He ain’t coming back. He’s finished in this league, loser just like you.
Go Falcons!

A Players Player

May 12th, 2009
2:46 pm

Vick Supporter you must love seeing your statements in print…they don’t make to much since..but what ever

Realist

May 12th, 2009
2:51 pm

Baker is a stud.

TheManMike

May 12th, 2009
2:52 pm

Just found out that VS2 IS Vick….promoting himself…from Levenworth…..I KNEW there had to be more to this story……..

Daniel Bell

May 12th, 2009
2:55 pm

Matt Ryan is quarterback in a quarterback sport. If he gets hurt the whole team suffers.

TheManMike

May 12th, 2009
2:57 pm

Vick –

You read one blog that mentions once that Roddy dropped a few passes in his MINI-CAMP and you think he’s “returned to his butter-finger form”…..i bet you live in a house of mirrors and just love to watch yourself walk around….

Vick – you should know that you ruined yourself….not the team…Go hate on someone else….If you cant – then you have exposed yourself as an imposter…and you know eventually folks will just pass right over your lame little broken record comments…..

Sam Baker IS a stud as Realist says and I bet it all that he could kick your arse….

Daniel Bell

May 12th, 2009
2:57 pm

More skeleton than deadfish? Never heard that one before.

TheManMike

May 12th, 2009
2:58 pm

Braveshater-

I do beleive Mr. Norwood and Mr. P Jerry are avid hunters…….

….eating crow much?

King Vick

May 12th, 2009
3:02 pm

Enter your comments here

King Vick

May 12th, 2009
3:04 pm

As long as this franchise won’t bring Vick back, they are forever cursed. Ryan had one little lucky season. So what.

TheManMike

May 12th, 2009
3:10 pm

How many names are you going to post under?

King Vick

May 12th, 2009
3:11 pm

TheManMike- I’m not him. Just happen to agree.

Bob

May 12th, 2009
3:19 pm

Well given the fact we lost Grady Jackson, Keith Brooking, and Lawyer Milloy this offseason on defense.. I would say our entire defense needs to stay healthy.. Matt Ryan needs to stay healthy for us to win at all.. My 3 outside of Ryan which is an obvious would be P. Jerry, Mike Peterson, and William Moore. If the Falcons lose a stud on Defense we’re done. Offense I think we are fairly deep if someone goes down.. Outside of Matt Ryan but don’t want to lose any to injury!

Falcon Observer

May 12th, 2009
3:37 pm

I’d say keep the trainer and the EMS staff healthy. With all the gimpy people the Birds have on the team, they’re bound to be very busy every game. Block? OUCH! Tackle? BRING ON THE STRETCHER! This year I expect every game to last five hours–three for the game and the rest for the injury timeouts.

Marty Foreman

May 12th, 2009
3:47 pm

It’s “WAY” to early in the rebirth of the Atlanta Falcons to single out “must haves”! EVERYONE is important. Let’s see after a couple of more years if we are “Patriot Deep” and “Patriot-like Coached” before we start to feel “comfortable” with ourselves! :)

Paddy

May 12th, 2009
4:44 pm

Marty Foreman…I agree with you. Everyone is important in this building process. But since we were ask for an opinion; Matt Ryan would be the worst loss this team could suffer.

Dan

May 12th, 2009
4:45 pm

Wondering if the Falcons are thinking of picking up any vet leadership
Chis McAlister DB Derrick Brooks LB

Mike Vick

May 12th, 2009
5:43 pm

Does Herpes count?

Whooper Dawg

May 12th, 2009
5:44 pm

Ryan certainly. Burner Turner, no every day number two back in house, although a Norwood/someone else combo may be serviceable. Abraham and that is about it. If almost any other starter gets injured, it will hurt as we do not have sufficient depth yet, but those three would be disasters, which I think was the question.

DW

May 12th, 2009
7:27 pm

Bob said: ‘Well given the fact we lost Grady Jackson, Keith Brooking, and Lawyer Milloy this offseason on defense.. I would say our entire defense needs to stay healthy’. T. D. traded in old and getting slower for touth, speed and intensity. The Falcon is the fastest animal on the planet and the Falcons are now one of the fastest teams in the NFL. Of course there will be rookie mistakes but we have one of the best coaching staffs to school our recent additions and we added new solid on field leadership with the additions of Gonzo and Peterson. Look how fast Ryan and Lofton became solid leaders last year and we have the continuity factor going for us building on a successful system implemented last year. Any starting players injury is difficult for most any team but I’d have to say that Ryan, Turner, Gonzo White, Abraham, Jerry, Lofton and/or Baker would be the most devastating. Our depth is not really there yet and next years draft should help considerably. Go Falcons.

wxwax

May 12th, 2009
8:30 pm

Of the players coming back from injury, I’d say that John Abraham is the most valuable.

His presence is essential for the Falcons to have a decent pass rush. He was a monster last year even with his boo-boos. If he’s gone, they’ll be hurting.

Of all players on the roster, obviously Matt Ryan is the one the Falcons can least afford to lose. I guess Turner would come next.

Players whose good health could really help the Falcons improve are Sam Baker and Peria Jerry. Baker was excellent before getting hurt last year. His good health could really help the run game. And conversely, a healthy Peria Jerry could make a huge difference to the rush defense.

The Falcons got pretty lucky last year, no season-wrecking injuries. I hate to say it, but it’s almost against the odds that they’ll be as lucky this year.

Fingers crossed!

falmouth

May 12th, 2009
9:12 pm

you think our d-line was swiss cheese last year? what if babineaux gets hurt? we have babineaux, a couple of young guys with questionable knees, a guy who might got moved to DT because he only produced two sacks in two years at DT, and three others that at this point are practice squad material, at DT. I am VERY afraid this season.

VICK SUPPORTER 2

May 13th, 2009
12:28 am

VICK HASN’T PLAYED IN OVER 2-YEARS AND WHEN PEOPLE THINK OF THE FALCONS, VICK IS THE FIRST NAME THAT COMES TO MIND – OUCH THAT’S GOT TO HURT :)

I KNOW IT ALSO HURTS WHEN RON JAWORSKI SAID ON DRAFT DAY THAT MIKE VICK TOOK THE WHOLE FRANCHISE ON HIS BACK AND PUT THEM ON HE MAP – DOUBLE OUCH :)

GO FALCONS!

Jack

May 13th, 2009
7:08 am

Ah, now we are back to the old racist, all caps, trying to get a rise out of rednecks and working blog is back. I am beginning to remember why I stopped reading. It was a nice Free agency/Draft season and fun while it lasted.

Guys, if you completely ignore people who talk in all caps, they will eventually shut up because no one is listening. A few morons who respond to these people are ruining it for everyone.

lenny

May 13th, 2009
7:25 am

i wonder what type of vehicle “vick supporter” backs into a parking spot every morning (afternoon?) for his affirmative-action position there at crisco that he always like to brag about so much on these blog.

Will

May 13th, 2009
10:28 am

I think that they all need to be healthy for the team to build upon last year’s successes. They don’t have as many veterans on the team and the high draft picks are skill position players that really need to step up if we’re going to have any legit chance at winning our division and go deep in the playoffs. Now, on to Vick Support!

I personally think Vick Suppporter has a point: For better or worse, Michael Vick DID put this franchise on the map Nobody outside of the ATL even remembers players like Billy “White Shoes” or Jeff Van Note! (Jesse Tuggle… maybe!) Matt Ryan, I think, more than anyone has both the notoriety and ability to hoist the Falcons into the pantheon of football deities. If we could find one more person of his caliber and stature and bring them on board, I think the Falcons could make history. I really do!

Brian Hunt

May 13th, 2009
10:29 am

Since the team has yet to prove it can generate a pass rush without John Abraham, he’s crucial to defensive success. An injury to Roddy White or Matt Ryan would slow the offense.

Seriously!

May 13th, 2009
11:25 am

Michael Turner hands down on “O”. I would hate to see what Ryan can do if teams know he has to force the ball with the Falcon’s Pro-Bowl running back out….OUCH. Babineaux on “D”. If Abraham contine to get doubled all season who else would get the sacks? Beirmann and Anderson motor – I don’t think so.

oldbird

May 13th, 2009
1:31 pm

I seriously doubt Vick ever plays another down of NFL football

oldbird

May 13th, 2009
1:37 pm

Without a healthy Abraham, the defense suffers tremendously! We all need to start praying that someone else on the defensive line can generate a pass rush or, hope that the birds now have the firepower to win their games 41/38.

Open Minded

May 13th, 2009
2:34 pm

This entire excercise demonstrates how shallow the Falcons depth is.
We look pretty solid with the first team but after that…few solid back-ups…
Abraham is a beast, Turner is a must, Baker or somebody at left Tackle must stay healthy.
Can’t wait for another couple years to build some realistic depth.

Hamad Meander

May 13th, 2009
6:21 pm

Here’s the deal – the entire starting offensive line must stay healthy for a successful Falcons season. Why? Because behind the starters, there isn’t a lot of depth. We have decent depth at most of the defensive line positions, linebacker positions, and secondary. Obviously, if an offensive skill stud went down for the season (I won’t mention names for superstitious reasons), we could be in for a long season….

Bait

May 15th, 2009
8:25 am

VS2– Haven’t you noticed that the days of MV are gone. Every game last year there were fewer and fewer #7s in the crowd. Those things are disappearing faster than MV’s reefer holder in the evidence locker. I cut mine up into strips and wiped my a$$ with it. I know it makes you want to break your crack pipe that Ryan is already better than MV was ever going to be, but if you’re really a Falcons fan, get over it.

Go Birds!!

Zizzle

May 15th, 2009
8:50 am

For the Falcons to be a TRUE super bowl contender in ‘09 they will to avoid the injury plague and play amazing DEFENSE, DEFENSE, DEFENSE, DEFENSE, DEFENSE, oh yeah….Did I mention they must play DEFENSE? John Abraham, Curtis Lofton & Johnathan Babineaux must have near career numbers & MOST IMPORTANT Jamaal Anderson HAS TO SHOW UP THIS YEAR! Anything from the younger defensive rookies and veteran Mike Peterson would be huge. The offense? I’m going to say it: BEST IN THE NFL! MOVE OVER BRADY AND MANNING!

GO FALCONS 09!!! SUPERBOWL!!!!! LETS GO!

Chapter13 1/2

May 15th, 2009
10:29 am

Vick Supporter 2 – you sound like a Giant Tool. But, I do hope Vick gets another chance to play Quarterback – just not for the Falcons.

GO FALCONS!!

fanATicaL

May 17th, 2009
2:09 pm

Having vision and seeing the big picture.This has to be the closest.The Falcons will be to a full Superbowl Team/Contender.The game is always plyed on the field and there is always that pesky performance thing.But look at the level play at each position.Then look at the depth behind them.The development and the ability to play with rookies.
Look at the schedule and yes it’s very tough.But if we win.We not only have the ability to win the NFC SOUTH.Which is a lock in my mind.Becuase we lost that title by one game last year.Clearly we have improved more than one game.In competitive nature within our division.We also play the teams that could possibly on our way to the superbowl.That be the Giants or Philly.If we win in the regular season .We have home field advantage.If we lose,we get another crack at em.Have to change that strategy.Will the real Falcon fans stand up.