FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Compared to the rest of training camp so far, there were more players than usual missing from the Atlanta Falcons' indoor practice Sunday.
Granted, the Falcons did just get their first taste of live hits with last Friday's 19-3 win over the Miami Dolphins. Atlanta coach Arthur Smith admitted some guys are still sore.
Running back Cordarrelle Patterson, wide receiver Frank Darby, cornerbacks Mike Hughes and Cornell Armstrong specifically were all absent due to soft-tissue injuries.
"It's going to be maybe a week or so," Smith said about Hughes before lumping Armstrong, Darby and Patterson into the same category.
Offensive lineman Drew Dalman's absence was then brushed off for the most part. An injury was hinted at, but nothing more.
"He should be fine," Smith said. "We'll just take it in the morning. Maybe it's another day. But it's nothing we're concerned about."
It was no surprise cornerback Jeff Okudah and offensive lineman Matt Hennessy were not present, as they did not practice last week either. Their injuries – though not the specifics – have been known for a while now.
When asked whether the number of soft-tissue injuries in a rather short amount of time was concerning, Smith put it in perspective. That's four men on a 90-man roster. That means 96% of the team is healthy.
Even if the others are added into the mix, which nearly doubles the body count, the Falcons are still 92% good to go.
"We take everything seriously," Smith said. "Nothing is more important than the health and safety of the players on our team. But you got to look at the big picture. Now, if we have 20 guys dropping, then I'd say what are we doing? But if a guy goes into a game and it happens early into a game, I wouldn't put it as concerning yet."
More notes, observations from Sunday:
Special opportunity: Cornerback Dee Alford could very well carve out a special role on special teams in addition to his defensive responsibilities this year.
With their go-to guy of Avery Williams out for the season with an ACL injury, the Falcons are in need of another punt returner. Alford made a strong case for himself last Friday when he returned his sole punt 79 yards for a touchdown.
"Certainly if there's a guy that you think is a weapon back there — hold your breath because this guy can take it to the house; it was good to see Dee do that — a guy like that can be productive," Smith said. "But sometimes, that guy may be worn out. You say hey, he's playing full-time; whatever the game plan, he's in there. And if you have another guy that can go in there that you trust and is capable, that helps that depth."
Wide receiver Matthew Sexton caught the only other punt for the Falcons, and his return went 6 yards. The Dolphins had a third punt, but it went out of bounds.
Another update: Hennessy is still not fully participating in Falcons practices. He hasn't since the third day of training camp back on July 28, when he sustained an undisclosed injury during practice. He has been, however, working out elsewhere during practices, including last week in Miami.
"That's encouraging," Smith said. "It's just one of those things that's day-to-day. Everybody's body is different. I know Matt is a tough guy, and he wants to be out there. It's something he's dealing with, and we'll just have to see. We've been amping up day by day."
Player returns: Cornerback Clark Phillips III was back at practice. He was carted off the practice field last Tuesday in Miami after making a tackle. Though Phillips did not play against the Dolphins, Smith had said Wednesday that Phillips' injury was not serious. This proves that.
Up next: The Falcons return to practice Monday to continue preparation for Friday's second preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Bengals are coming off a 36-19 loss to the Green Bay Packers.