FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – During the three-week period that cornerback A.J. Terrell was out due to an hamstring injury he suffered in Week 7 against the Cincinnati Bengals, doing yoga is what kept his mind at ease in a time he described as a bit stressful.
"Being able to just get away. Mentally, doing stretches, and doing things to help me get back but also, yoga helped with a lot of mental," Terrell said on Wednesday. "Just being able to get away a little bit and just think. It just works in all facets."
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Terrell first started yoga with Joe Palese, a professional yoga teacher, going into his rookie season and has been continuing doing it ever since.
"That's really where I laid my head on going into this injury," Terrell said.
The second-team All-Pro cornerback returned to practice on Wednesday, elated to be back on the field after rehabbing for weeks. Suffering a hamstring injury and having to miss three games because of it was a first for Terrell.
In his young professional career, he had never suffered an injury this severe. And with that in mind, Terrell mentioned that going all out full speed in his first practice back is something he didn't want to push too much.
"They're tricky, so I'm just trying to make sure it doesn't happen again," he said. "Just taking all the precautions, that's why in practice I'm just trying to strain a little bit to see where it's at leading up to this week."
There's no definite timetable when exactly Terrell will return back to the secondary but, for him, not having any second guesses about his hamstring, feeling like himself again and playing freely is what he needs to see from himself before he returns.
Yet, if Terrell is able play on Sunday against a run-heavy Chicago Bears team, he sees the challenges facing a dual-threat quarterback like Justin Fields, who ranks sixth in rushing yards across the NFL.
"Mobile quarterback. He's gotten better throughout the week and got a lot better from last year as well," he said. "He got some weapons, he knows how to move the ball around, he knows how to use his legs to make big plays. We just got to key in on the details and just make sure we attack him the right way."
That will be necessary for this Falcons defense. With the season at its pivot point and the Falcons in the thick of an NFC South race fighting for the top spot in the division, having Terrell back only helps strengthen this unit.
"Being out there, I feel like I give the defense and the team some juice always," Terrell said, "just [from] my presence being out there, [my] leadership and just going out there and making plays."