Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 11/2/11
The Falcons revved up their running game in the two games before the bye to climb to 4-3, but now they must replace their lead-blocking fullback, Ovie Mughelli. Mughelli was placed on injured reserve and Mike Cox was signed. Jason Snelling, who plays fullback and running back, will get a chance to fill Mughelli's Pro Bowl cleats. "We're going to miss Ovie," coach Mike Smith said. "Ovie had surgery (on his right knee Oct. 31), and he will be looking at a significant recovery time. Of course, any time you miss a guy or lose a guy like Ovie who's been an integral part of our run game, we're going to have to have some other player step up." Some of the Falcons were not pleased with the hit that Detroit safety Louis Delmas made on Mughelli that ended his season. "The NFL has to make a rule about that," wide receiver Roddy White said. "Guys going out in the flat and they can't see, and you get your knees cut from under you like that. It's tough, especially when you are playing on turf and you are planted into the ground and you get hit like that." Smith is not sure a rule change would have helped Mughelli. "The rules are the rules," Smith said. "It's definitely defined what a defenseless player is. It's definitely defined where you can and cannot hit a player. Right now, the only protection that defenseless players have is hits around the head. It's an unfortunate thing, but injuries happen. We're going to miss Ovie, that's for sure." Snelling, who returned to the team after testing free agency, was signed to a 1 million, one-year deal. He filled in when Mughelli was hurt in 2009 and fared well as a lead blocker. "Jason has been that back that can play both our 'F' and our 'H,' so that's going to obviously change his role," Smith said. "We added Cox, who was with Kansas City last year. He's more the body type of a traditional fullback, so we're going to give him an opportunity to see what he can do and try to get him up to speed with our base offense." With Snelling shifting over to fullback, there also might be some more touches for Jacquizz Rodgers at running back. "Jacquizz has shown that he has the skill set to be a running back in this league, and we need to make sure that 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." The Falcons want to make sure they do not wear down Michael Turner, who's led the league in carries in two of the last three seasons.
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