Atlanta needs Dominique Franks and Christopher Owens to step up at cornerback.
Starter Brent Grimes, an alternate Pro Bowl pick in 2010, had minor surgery Thursday on his right knee that will sideline him for two to four weeks. Franks and Owens say not to worry, they're ready to handle a bigger role in his absence.
The Falcons (7-4) have yet to decide if they will start Franks or Owens on the left side Sunday at Houston (8-3), but either way, both players will take plenty of snaps.
Atlanta uses a nickel scheme about 55 percent of the time, so a lot will be asked of Franks, a 2010 fifth-round draft pick with no career starts, and Owens, a third-year Atlanta veteran with 10 career starts.
''It's too bad that I had to get this opportunity because of some injuries,'' Franks said Thursday. ''We're having to sit Grimey out and (Kelvin) Hayden out, but it really helps to be learning from those guys each week and preparing myself like I'm going to...