The Atlanta Falcons dealt with multiple injuries at skilled positions during the preseason. But two key weapons are trending in the right direction for Week 1.
Falcons reporter Joe Patrick reported on Wednesday that both running back Cordarrelle Patterson and KhaDarel Hodge returned to practice. It was the first time either player was on the field in a couple weeks.
Although that’s great news, Patterson and Hodge were each limited at practice according to Falcons.com’s Scott Bair.
“Offensive weapon Cordarrelle Patterson was in that classification, with a limitation due to what the team listed as a thigh ailment,” Bair wrote. “Patterson hasn’t practiced for a few weeks, dating back to the middle portions of August.
“Receiver KhaDarel Hodge was also a limited participant due to an ankle issue, the team announced.”
The Falcons only have five wide receivers on their 53-man roster. So, Hodge returning is particularly important. If he can’t play on Sunday against the Carolina Panthers, the Falcons may have to elevate one of the receivers from their practice squad.
But if Hodge can’t dress and Patterson can, the 32-year-old veteran could make up for the loss. Patterson had posted 73 receptions for 670 yards and 5 receiving touchdowns over the past two seasons in Atlanta. That, combined with his rushing ability, caused head coach Arthur Smith and the Falcons to create a new position for Patterson on the team’s depth chart.
Officially, Patterson has a “J” next to his name on the depth chart, with “J” standing for “Joker.”
Essentially, Patterson is the team’s Swiss-army knife.
The Falcons don’t have a backup “Joker” on the depth chart. Therefore, if Patterson can’t overcome his thigh injury to play on Sunday, his versatility will be sorely missed.
Atlanta is also dealing with an injury to a key player on defense this week — cornerback Jeff Okudah. Unlike Patterson and Hodge, Okudah didn’t practice on Wednesday, but Smith didn’t rule him out for Sunday’s matchup.