FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- The Falcons are ready to get back into the friendly confines of Mercedes-Benz Stadium after spending the past three weeks on the road. They've spent the past several days battling in the gloomy weather for the important upcoming showdown with the Dallas Cowboys.
Today's Early Bird Report includes some big news regarding player availability for the Cowboys on Sunday as well as a Saints player's season coming to an early end.
FALCONS HEADLINES FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY
*Sports Illustrated: *The Falcons have played like a .500 team, which is exactly what they are
After eight games this season, the Falcons have a 4-4 record. SI's Jonathan Jones says the defending NFC champs' record is indicative of the on-field performance they've had this year. Following the Falcons' loss to the Panthers, coach Dan Quinn seemed to also have the same line of thinking.
"We have played pretty average football and our record is pretty average, so that's where we are at right now," he said. "Do I think that we could be better? For sure. I fully expect us to work at practice to try and find ways to improve across the board and I really feel like if we can clean up a couple of situational things we can play some pretty good football."
The Falcons have the opportunity to move above .500 with a win on Sunday against the Cowboys, and they've worked hard to address their primary issues, specifically third-down and red-zone opportunities.
NEWS ON THE FALCONS' OPPONENT: Dallas Cowboys
*Fort Worth Star-Telegram: *Ezekiel Elliott's injunction denied, suspension begins immediately
The biggest news across the NFL on Thursday was the appeal hearing for Ezekiel Elliott's injunction to block his six-game suspension. A three-judge panel for the 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals denied his motion for an injunction, meaning Elliott's suspension has begun. This ruling obviously has major implications for Sunday's game, as the Cowboys running back is currently second in the NFL with 783 rushing yards and tied for first with seven touchdowns on the ground.
*The Dallas Morning News: *Dez Bryant will return to practice Friday, plans to play Sunday
While it appears the Cowboys will be without one star player on offense, they may avoid losing another. Top receiver Dez Bryant suffered a bruised knee and a sprained ankle in Dallas' win over Kansas City, and he missed practice on both Wednesday and Thursday. Despite the missed practices, Bryant said he will return to practice on Friday and plans to play this weekend against Atlanta, according to Brandon George of The Dallas Morning News*. *
"We're on a roll to do something good," Bryant said, according to George. "Got to be a part of that, want to be a part of that. If I'm good, I'm going to go. The way I feel right now, I expect to go."
BIGGEST NEWS FROM AROUND THE NFC SOUTH
*The Charlotte Observer: *Greg Olsen has big plans for Panthers' bye week
Pro Bowl tight end Greg Olsen has been on the Panthers' injured reserve list since Week 2, when he suffered a broken bone in his right foot against Buffalo. He will be eligible to come off IR against the Jets on Nov. 26, but he has some interesting plans before then.
According to Joseph Person of The Charlotte Observer*, *Olsen will join the Fox broadcast team of Kevin Burkhardt and Charles Davis to serve as a guest analyst for the Rams-Vikings game on Nov. 19, the same weekend of the Panthers' bye. Olsen will be just the third active player to ever work as a Fox analyst during a regular-season game, according to Person, joining Matt Hasselbeck, who did so in 2014, and Marcus Allen, who was the first player to do so in 1994.
*The Times-Picayune: *Saints cornerback Delvin Breaux to remain on injured reserve
The season is over for New Orleans Saints cornerback Delvin Breaux. According to Herbie Teope of The Times-Picayune*, *the Saints decided to keep Breaux on their injured reserve list after he suffered a setback in practice while recovering from surgery to repair a fractured fibula. A projected starter heading into this season, Breaux underwent the surgery in August and was eligible to return to the active roster in Week 9.
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