Posted November 01, 2011 on AP on Fox
Carolina_panthers_v_e29f
The Atlanta Falcons almost began the season without Jason Snelling. Now he could be one of the keys to the team's playoff hopes. Most of Snelling's playing time in his five seasons in Atlanta has come at running back. Beginning with this week's game at Indianapolis, he has an opportunity to prove he take over as the starter at fullback. Pro Bowl fullback Ovie Mughelli's season-ending knee injury in Atlanta's win at Detroit on Oct. 23 leaves Snelling as the probable new starter. Mughelli, who was placed on injured reserve last week, had surgery on Monday to repair a tear in his right MCL. The Falcons signed fullback Mike Cox last week, but Snelling appears to be the first option to replace Mughelli. Snelling's normal dual role as a backup at running back and fullback will change as he focuses on blocking. ''As you know, Jason has been kind of that back who can play both,'' coach Mike Smith said after Monday's practice. ''That's going to obviously change his role.'' Snelling said he doesn't think the offense will have to change if he starts at fullback. ''I think we just pretty much call what we're going to call,'' Snelling said Monday, when the Falcons returned from their bye week. ''I think my coaches have the confidence in me that I can go in there and get the job done and do what I need to do to help my team win.'' Snelling talked with other teams, including St. Louis, as a free agent last summer before signing a one-year, $1 million deal to return to Atlanta. ''I just took the experience for what it was, free agency,'' he said. ''I'm happy where I'm at. This is where I chose to come back to and I'm glad to be a Falcon.'' Snelling rushed for more than 900 yards while backing up Michael Turner at running back the last two years. He set a career high with 613 yards rushing in 2009 and added 324 yards rushing last year. The fifth-year back from Virginia has had only six carries for 24 yards this season. He has 12 catches for 89 yards. Snelling likely will be the lead blocker for Turner against the Colts as the Falcons (4-3) look for their third straight win. Snelling helped clear the way for Turner to rush for 122 yards in a 23-16 win over the Lions before the bye week. ''My career here has been as a guy who takes advantage of opportunities and a guy who can play different roles,'' Snelling said. ''They have that confidence in me and that's always good when your team has confidence you can do multiple roles. That was a critical time in the game that I had to go in there and step in. There was never a doubt from my coaches or my teammates that I could get it done, and we ended up getting the win. That was great.'' With Snelling at fullback, rookie running back Jacquizz Rodgers could have more opportunities to run the ball. ''Whether Jason is at halfback or fullback, I think Jacquizz has shown he's got the skill set to be a running back in this league and we need to make sure we spread the ball around through the second half of the season,'' Smith said. ''We've kind of been a little one-sided in our carries.'' Turner has 621 of the Falcons' 789 yards rushing. Snelling (5-11, 234) looks more like a running back than a fullback. He's lighter than Turner (5-10, 247). Smith said Cox (6-0, 252) ''is more of the body type of the traditional fullback.'' ''We're going to give him work to see what he can do and try to get him up to speed with our base offense,'' Smith said of Cox. Cox, from Georgia Tech, played for Kansas City the past three seasons. His younger brother Lucas Cox, also from Georgia Tech, was with the Falcons in training camp this year as an undrafted free agent and has helped with playbook questions. ''I was on the phone with him last night,'' said Mike Cox of his brother. ''There were just a few little questions I had. He's definitely been a huge help.'' Notes: Rookie WR Julio Jones, who has missed two games with a hamstring injury, returned to practice. ... Smith said his coaching staff worked in the bye week on improving three areas: first down efficiency on offense, third-down defense and penalties. ''We tried to analyze the areas we were getting the penalties and what the penalties were and why,'' he said.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

LSU-Alabama trash talk hits Falcons locker room

The hype surrounding Saturday’s college football showdown between No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama made its way into the Falcons locker room. Center Todd McClure (LSU) and quarterback John Parker Wilson (Alabama) stood toe-to-toe Wednesday defending their alma maters. “We can pick any 22 guys to go out and play against this Alabama team, it doesn’t matter,” McClure said. “They...

Video: Too early to judge Julio Jones trade?

CineSport’s Noah Coslov turns to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the AJC to discuss rookie WR Julio Jones’ impact and how the bye gives them an advantage against the Colts. –D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog Get instant updates on Twitter at AJCFalcons and you can join the Facebook Fan page at AJC Falcons.

Mid-Season Falcons Grades – Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

This is the final installment of Blogging Dirty’s mid-season grades. We have already graded the Defensive Line,Linebackers, Defensive Backs, Offensive Line and QBs/RBs.Now it is the turn of the Falcons Wide Receivers and Tight Ends.WR Julio Jones (A-) – Julio has made an incredibly promising start to his Atlanta Falcon career. Snagging 25 catches for 358 yards in only four...

Julio Jones returned to practice on Monday

FLOWERY BRANCH – Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones, who missed the last two games, returned 110812 Atlanta - Smoke and fire surround Atlanta Falcons rookie wide receiver Julio Jones as he enters the stadium to take on the Miami Dolphins at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Friday, August 12, 2011. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com to practice on Monday. Jones suffered a hamstring injury...

Mid-Season Falcons Grades – Quarterbacks and Running Backs

As the Falcons are on a bye this week, it seems like a good time to analyse how our Falcons have played so far this year. We will be going unit by unit on the team over the next week or so. We have already graded the Defensive Line, Linebackers, Defensive Backs and Offensive Line.Now it is the turn of the Falcons Quarterbacks and Running Backs.QB Matt Ryan (B-) – Matt is certainly...

Falcons LT Sam Baker to miss 3 to 4 weeks

Falcons lineman Sam Baker blocks Carolina's Charles Johnson, giving Matt Ryan time to pass. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com FLOWERY BRANCH  – Falcons left tackle Sam Baker will be out three to four weeks with a back injury head coach Mike Smith announced Wednesday. Baker had been playing well after a slow start to the season. He had tough matchups in the opener against...

Falcons' White, Jones get healthy

All-Pro wide receiver Roddy White, who led the league with 113 catches last season, has 39 catches for 425 yards and four touchdowns. He's on pace to catch 89 passes this season. With rookie sensation Julio Jones possibly returning, White believes he can pick up the pace. "I don't think I'm doing too well right now," White said. "Not what I expect out...

ScoutTV: Reggie Kelly

Reggie Kelly is an icon in Mississippi. He was home to mentor the kids of Aberdeen and catch a football game. Listen to Reggie talk about his new book and life after football.

Falcons LT Baker out 3-4 weeks with back injury

Atlanta Falcons left tackle Sam Baker will miss three to four weeks with a back injury, coach Mike Smith said Wednesday.

Falcons' Baker out 3-4 weeks due to back (AP)

Atlanta Falcons left tackle Sam Baker will miss three to four weeks with a back injury, coach Mike Smith said Wednesday. Will Svitek, who started for Baker in the Falcons' 23-16 victory at Detroit two weeks ago, is expected to take his place again Sunday when Atlanta (4-3) visits Indianapolis (0-8).
Falcons News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.