Saints running back Darren Sproles will not be able to play against the Falcons tomorrow in New Orleans, and for the Falcons defense, that’s a very good thing.
Sproles suffered a broken hand two weeks ago, and underwent surgery to repair his hand. He was immediately not eligible to play against Philadelphia on Monday Night Football, but some pundits thought he may be able to play against the Falcons Sunday. According to this NFL.com report, Sproles will not be able to play.
For the Falcons defense, that’s really good news. Sproles represents a huge mismatch for nearly everyone. He’s way too fast for a linebacker to cover. If a safety covers him, it pulls him down into the box, and that takes away from what the defense can do in deeper coverage. Add in the dimension that Sproles brings with catching passes out of the backfield, so he can’t be jammed by a defensive back, and he’s quite a weapon.
Sean Weatherspoon is one of the few linebackers in the NFL that is capable of defending a player like Sproles. ‘Spoon was drafted to defend Reggie Bush, but Sproles is almost the exact same player that Bush is, maybe even a little better. I feel very comfortable with Weatherspoon covering Sproles. I was worried when he suffered the ankle injury.
The bad news is that Weatherspoon is out, but the good news is that Sproles is also out. Weatherspoon is dynamic, and brings a lot of different elements to the game, but Sproles is the same way for the Saints offense. Add in the factor that Stephen Nicholas is nearly as good as Weatherspoon, and I think it’s clear that while each team is missing a key player, the loss of Sproles affects the Saints more than the Falcons.