FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- The Falcons are officially on their bye week, but the Early Bird Report must go on! Granted, it may be a lighter week content-wise, but I'll continue to do my best to bring you the important stuff.
Today's Early Bird contains a look at the flaws of the teams who were considered preseason contenders as well as some injury news for a pair of notable Falcons receivers.
FALCONS HEADLINES FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY
The Ringer: Some contenders' flaws seems more fixable than others
Seemingly all of the teams who entered this season as favorites struggled on Sunday. New England lost to Carolina, Oakland fell to Denver, Dallas lost to Los Angeles, and Atlanta dropped one against Buffalo. Looking back at Week 4, The Ringer's Robert Mays discussed some of the flaws these contenders showed.
Of all the teams mentioned, Mays believes the Falcons have "the clearest path to rectifying the issues they've faced." He says the historic offense from last season has taken a step back, and the defense has yet to take the type of jump people were expecting. While the offense hasn't dominated as consistently as it did in 2016, Mays says injuries and a legitimate Bills' defense made things look worse than they are on Sunday. As far as the defense is concerned, injuries have also played a role and the unit still has a ton of upside.
NFL.com: What we learned from the Falcons' loss
Following Sunday's tough game against the Bills, Conor Orr of NFL.com shared his five thoughts from the Falcons' loss.
He begins by saying the victory was rookie head coach Sean McDermott's signature win for the season. Next, Orr gives credit to the Falcons for keeping things close despite losing three key players, including Julio Jones. His next two points concern the Bills' offense, which Orr says has the potential to be potent but needs to hit big plays and needs to let LeSean McCoy loose. Finally, Orr turns back to the Falcons and says upcoming games against the Dolphins and Jets should help them turn things around.
ESPN.com: Sanu expected to be out 2-3 weeks
According to ESPN's Vaughn McClure, a source indicated to him that Falcons receiver Mohamed Sanu could be sidelined for two or three weeks with a hamstring injury. On Monday, coach Dan Quinn said he would put no timetable out for the injured players because each person's recovery ability is different. With the team on its bye week, Sanu has at least one week to recover without missing any playing time.
In other receiver-related injury news, Julio Jones is reportedly not expected to miss the Falcons' next game against the Dolphins.
BIGGEST NEWS FROM AROUND THE NFC SOUTH
ESPN.com: Panthers' win can be a 'catalyst'
The Panthers had one of the surprising wins over the weekend, beating the New England Patriots 33-30 on a game-winning field goal. According to ESPN's David Newton, the feeling within the locker room is that the victory can act as a springboard of sorts and revive the team's spirit.
"It can be a catalyst, a stepping-stone," Rivera said of Sunday's victory, according to Newton. "It kind of felt a little bit like what happened a couple of years ago when we went to Seattle. They were the watermark for us, as far as the NFC was concerned. So we were able to have success there, and from that point we had success."
Tampa Bay Times: Why the Bucs are overjoyed that Doug Martin is back
Buccaneers running back Doug Martin has been reinstated after a three-game suspension, and he appears to be in line to play this Thursday against the Patriots. According to Rick Stroud of the *Tampa Bay Times, *the team is thrilled to have their two-time Pro Bowler teammate back.
"As a player, he's had a ton of success in the NFL, so anytime you can get a player like him back, he should help us out in the run game," tight end Cameron Brate told Stroud. "It's just he always brings a lot of energy. Pretty contagious in that regard. It's awesome seeing him when I walked in this morning, especially coming into a short week. We could probably use the juice."
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