Great news for Atlanta Falcons’ fans as Adrian Clayborn practiced on a limited basis Wednesday. A knee injury sidelined the 6th year DE for the past three weeks.
Adrian Clayborn’s return is a boost to a defense that has played very well, but struggled to rush passers in his absence. The Falcons welcomed Clayborn back to the practice field about two weeks ahead of schedule. The 28-year old tore his MCL and partially tore his meniscus during a Week 12 game vs Arizona.
Clayborn really emerged as a physical presence in his second year with the Falcons, putting up 4.5 sacks before injury.
The defensive line has noticeably lacked pressure over the last three games, particularly along the interior. Watching Grady Jarrett get squashed on several plays last week added to concerns the Falcons’ defense wouldn’t hold up in the playoffs. This week’s contest at Carolina will serve as a big indicator.
It’s not impossible but seems unlikely Adrian Clayborn will be active on Saturday. The best case scenario would be Clayborn suiting up and taking limited snaps. Common sense says the Falcons slowly test the waters and see how he feels day-to-day. If we’ve learned anything this late into the season, it’s Dan Quinn isn’t afraid to rest key players.
Beating Carolina is important but the Falcons can’t rush Clayborn back to the field in the process. If all goes as planned, the Atlanta defense gets Clayborn back at full strength before their first playoff game. The “next man up” mantra has led the Falcons back to the top of the NFC South and in control of their own destiny.
In other practice news:
Julio Jones (toe), Jalen Collins (knee), and Nick Williams (concussion) also returned on a limited basis today, while Austin Hooper (knee) and De’Vondre Campbell (concussion) were held out.