ATLANTA -- The Falcons dropped their first game of the season on Sunday, losing 23-17 to the Buffalo Bills. While the loss currently stings, a mounting list of injuries are the greater concern moving forward.
Fortunately, Atlanta (3-1) is entering its bye week and has the opportunity to recover somewhat and get healthy for the long stretch ahead. When the schedule first came out earlier this year, it seemed undesirable to have a break so early in the season. Atlanta's bye week in 2016 did not come until Week 11.
Now, the Week 5 break is just what the Falcons need.
"You never know when you're going to need a bye," coach Dan Quinn said after the game. "Sometimes it's late in the season and it's good, other times it's early and before the season, you may think to yourself 'that's early.' In our team's case, this time, we're hopeful that we'll get a good bit of the guys back.
"We had five that were inactive, due to injury … and then had a couple injuries within the game. We'll assess that tomorrow, get a look back. A number of them are close to returning, and that's encouraging for us."
Entering their game against the Bills, the Falcons were without safety Ricardo Allen, linebacker Vic Beasley, offensive tackle Ryan Schraeder, defensive lineman Courtney Upshaw and running back Terron Ward. Of those five injured players who were inactive for Sunday's game, four were starters.
Already down several impact players, Atlanta lost two important offensive pieces and a key member of its defensive line in the first half against Buffalo (3-1).
Star receiver Julio Jones exited the game in the first half with a hip flexor injury and did not return. Receiver Mohamed Sanu also missed the second half of the game with a hamstring injury. The depth to the defensive line took a blow when Jack Crawford's day was ended after he suffered a bicep injury.
For now, there is not much information on the status of those three players. "We'll have a look and see how the guys who were injured today (are doing)," Quinn said, "but for the guys who were banged up, we're hopeful that by the time the Miami week comes around, we should have a healthier roster."