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Early Bird Report 9/22: The Falcons' hangover cure; Julio named one of 50 fittest athletes


FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- The Falcons (2-0) are busy putting the final touches on their preparations for the Detroit Lions (2-0), a matchup that will kick off Sunday at 1 p.m. ET. With the weekend nearly upon us, here are the final pieces of news for this inter-divisional showdown.

Today's Early Bird Report includes the Falcons' hangover cure; the Lions' plan for Julio Jones and the two teams' different approaches to injury reports.



Sports Illustrated: Falcons not suffering from a Super Bowl hangover

Remember that hangover everyone expected to have after last year's Super Bowl? Turns out the Falcons didn't get the memo. *Sports Illustrated's *Albert Breer wrote a piece about Atlanta avoiding any type of let-down over the first two weeks of the season.

Breer believes there's one key reason why the Falcons have continued to roll right along:

"They did what few NFL teams have the stomach to when things go sideways — behind the GM they've stuck with for a decade and a head coach they've invested in, they believed in their course and stuck to it." Lions' plan for Julio? Know where he is every play

Containing Julio Jones is a nearly impossible task for NFL teams, and the Lions are the next team who will attempt to do so. Former Atlanta linebacker Paul Worrilow is now in Detroit, and he spoke with ESPN’s Michael Rothstein about some of the things Jones can do.

"The way he'll go after a long ball, you think it's out of reach, you know," Worrilow told Rothstein. "You wouldn't just think much if he didn't go after it, because it might be too far away.

"But he's taking off. He's going for it. He might lay out in practice, just athletic stuff like that."

Sports Illustrated: Julio named one of the top 50 fittest male athletes

Falcons fans have known for a long time just how incredibly athletic Jones is. Everyone else has caught on. In a recent feature, *Sports Illustrated *ranked the top 50 fittest male and female athletes in sports and the Falcons' star receiver came in at No. 18 on the list.

Said SI, "Who can't Julio Jones outrun? The man is a Speed Machine, making him even more of a nightmare for opponents who are already dreading his incredible ball control and vertical abilities that contributed to his 1,409-yard season in 2016. (Mohamed Sanu referred to the 6-foot-3, 220-pound receiver as an 'alien,' which would honestly explain a lot.) If there's some kind of physical talent that Matt Ryan's most lethal weapon does not possess, then, well, you could've fooled us."

NEWS ON THE FALCONS' OPPONENT: Detroit Lions Falcons and Lions have different approaches to injuries

When asked about any injury situation, Lions coach Jim Caldwell has the same response every time, according to Nate Atkins of "Check the report." Teams publish an injury report after practices with that includes the players who were limited or held out. While Caldwell reveals nothing when asked about the status of his team's injury situation, Atkins says his experience with Dan Quinn during a teleconference was a very different experience.

Quinn was very transparent when asked about the status of one particular player, saying: "We have not practiced but I'm glad to give you an update from our injury side of things," Quinn said. "Three guys won't work today. That's Vic Beasley and Courtney Upshaw -- Vic with a hamstring and Court with an ankle, and Ryan Schraeder's in the concussion protocol, so he won't be able to participate today. Past that, we're in good shape from an injury standpoint, and we're ready to get going."

Detroit Free Press: Rookie LB Jarrad Davis still out at practice

Detroit's starting rookie linebacker Jarrad Davis missed his second straight practice as he continues to progress through the league's concussion protocol, according to Dave Birkett of the *Detroit Free Press**. *Birkett says if Davis is unavailable against the Falcons, the Lions will likely start another rookie, fourth-rounder Jalen-Reeves Maybin, in his stead.

BIGGEST NEWS FROM AROUND THE NFC SOUTH Panthers, Saints add twists with Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara

Both the Panthers and the Saints added running backs who serve as potential matchup nightmares for opponents. This week, however, they are facing each other. The Panthers will have to come up with a plan for Saints rookie Alvin Kamara, who fills the same roll that Darren Sproles and Reggie Bush once occupied, while New Orleans must develop a way to defend Christian McCaffrey.

Neither rookie has had a breakout game through two weeks this season, but they were the subject of conversation in the preparation of Sunday's division matchup, according to Mike Triplett and David Newton of ESPN.

The Players' Tribune: The 5 toughest linemen Gerald McCoy has ever faced

In a piece for The Players' Tribune, Tampa Bay defensive lineman Gerald McCoy broke down the five – really six – toughest offensive linemen he’s ever played against. No Falcons made the list, but it's interesting to get perspective from one of the top defensive tackle in the league on the players he thinks do a great job.

His list includes Washington's Trent Williams, Dallas' Zack Martin, Baltimore's Marshal Yanda, Oakland's Kelechi Osemele and his former teammates Davin Joseph and Carl Nicks.


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