The New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons released their first injury reports ahead of their Week 18 matchup in Atlanta at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Saints continue their must-win run against the division rival in order to keep hope alive for a fifth-straight playoff appearance.
Ryan Ramczyk was a limited participant at Saints practice today pic.twitter.com/IoxMm7kYRr— Luke Johnson (@ByLukeJohnson) January 5, 2022
The Saints’ offensive line has been in the spotlight this season, but not for the reasons many had anticipated ahead of the team’s September debut. New Orleans came out on top of their Week 17 matchup with the Carolina Panthers despite being down to Cesar Ruiz as their only remaining starting offensive lineman.
This, the final week of the regular season, would be a great time for four of the Saints’ front five to reassemble. Left tackle Terron Armstead has missed six of the last eight games, center Erik McCoy was on the COVID-19/Reserve list last week, right tackle Ryan Ramczyk has missed each of the last seven games, and left guard Andrus Peat is out of the season.
Some good news on the front is that on Wednesday, Ramczyk - who has been battling a knee injury and was on the COVID/Reserve list last week - did return to practice on a limited capacity. Unfortunately, Terron Armstead has not yet done-so. However, he’s following a similar pattern each of the last few weeks and has been a gametime decision. Hopefully the Saints can get one or both of the tackles back on Sunday, a game the Saints must win to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Also not participating in practice on Wednesday were defensive end Marcus Davenport and defensive backs Bradley Roby and PJ Williams. Davenport has been fighting through a shoulder injury each of the last handful of weeks or so, but has found his way to the field of late. He’s made a consistent impact when he does so, he’ll be an important name to watch throughout the week. New Orleans was without Roby last weekend and PJ Williams filled in at free safety for the franchise tagged Marcus Williams, but left early due to injury.
PJ Williams will be a name to be keen on not only this week to see if he plays, but this offseason as well. A player the Saints should work hard to keep in the facility.
Returning to a limited practice this week were also running backs Mark Ingram and Ty Montgomery. Ingram missed last week’s Panthers matchup with his injury and would certainly be a big contributor against the Falcons on Sunday via the ground game.
Arthur Smith said the team does not have clarity on Kyle Pitts' hamstring injury right now. They'll take it through the week and figure it out.— Tori McElhaney (@tori_mcelhaney) January 3, 2022
"We're not ruling him out today."
The big name to keep an eye on in Atlanta will be rookie tight end Kyle Pitts. The former Florida Gator leads the Falcons in receptions (66) and receiving yards (1,018) but has only caught one touchdown in his first season. He’s the first rookie tight end to cross the 1,000 yard receiving mark since former New Orleans Saints head coach Mike Ditka did so as a tight end with the Chicago Bears.
In the Week 9 27-25 Atlanta Falcons win over the Saints, Pitts reeled in three catches for 62 yards with a long of 39.
If he’s unable to go this weekend, the Falcons are likely to lean on the ever-versatile Cordarrelle Patterson as a receiver along with Russell Gage. Mike Davis would hold down the run game from the backfield.
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