Heading into this weekend there are a few Falcons players that will need step up for the Falcons to be victorious. Here are five Falcons that will be crucial in deciding the fate of the Falcons – Texans encounter on Sunday afternoon.
- RG Joe Hawley - It’s fair to say that Hawley struggled in pass protection against the Vikings and DT Kevin Williams in particular. This week he faces two very strong interior pass rushers in Antonio Smith and JJ Watt, so his performance is crucial. The Falcons cannot afford to give up much interior pressure, as that would be a killer for both the passing game and the running game of the Falcons.
- CB Chris Owens – On the whole Owens did a nice job last week against Minnesota. This week he will be forced to play full time at LCB, given the injury to CB Brent Grimes. The prospect of him having to cover Texans WR Andre Johnson at times, does make me nervous given Owens’ past history. He will need to be on his game despite facing a rookie 3rd string QB in TJ Yates.
- WR Julio Jones – While I fully understand that Julio was struggling with a hamstring injury during the Vikings game, it still was unusual to see him not catch any balls. This week, he will be crucial to the Falcons passing attack, with Roddy White being matched up against talented corner Johnathon Joseph, Roddy’s opportunities may be reduced. Julio will be facing former Alabama teammate Texans CB Kareem Jackson for large parts of the game and he should be in a good position to take advantage of Jackson’s weaknesses, due to the familiarity he has with him.
- DE Ray Edwards – I’ve been defending Ray Edwards for quite some time now, but my patience is starting to wain slightly. With only 2 sacks on the year, he needs to show up in the final few games to make that total respectable. His playing time could also be in danger with the exceptional play of backup DE Lawrence Sidbury. A big game against the Texans with a sack or two would get his season back on track.
- MLB Curtis Lofton – Lofton has been terrific so far this season and has been a dominant run defender for the Falcons. Against a zone blocking rushing attack the ability of the MLB, to see where the play is going and getting to the point of attack to make a play is crucial to stopping this type of attack. With talented backs Arian Foster and Ben Tate, it becomes even more important that the MLB and all the linebackers are playing well.