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Falcons injury report: Arthur Smith announces game designations ahead of Week 18 NFC South clash

Taylor Heinicke has been working through an ankle injury all week. Smith said Monday the Falcons will have a better idea of his status Friday. 

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- The Falcons have listed starting quarterback Taylor Heinicke as questionable ahead of Sunday's regular season finale in New Orleans. 

Heinicke suffered an ankle injury two weeks ago in the Falcons win over the Indianapolis Colts. Though he finished the game, he was limited in two of the three Falcons practices in Week 17. And as the injury lingered, Heinicke was eventually taken out in the final quarter of the Falcons loss to the Chicago Bears last week. 

Head coach Arthur Smith said Monday the Falcons would monitor Heinicke's injury throughout the week. Heinicke himself said Wednesday that he was "optimistic" about being able to play this Sunday against the Saints. The veteran quarterback was limited in every practice of Week 18. 

If Heinicke cannot play Sunday, Desmond Ridder would return to the starting role under center. In the hypothetical event that Heinicke is listed as inactive completely, Logan Woodside would act as Ridder's backup.


In other injury news, the Falcons have also listed defensive back Mike Hughes (concussion protocol) and Zach Harrison (knee) as questionable for Sunday's game. Like Heinicke, Harrison has been limited throughout practice this week, while Hughes was back as a full participant by Friday.

Smith said on Friday afternoon that the Falcons plan to work Harrison and Heinicke out prior to the game Sunday before making a final decision on their status. 

Meanwhile, three other players have been officially ruled out of Sunday's NFC South clash. Those players are safety DeMarcco Hellams (concussion protocol), inside linebacker Troy Andersen (pectoral) and center Drew Dalman (ankle).

At safety, the Falcons could see extended playing time for someone like Micah Abernathy as the third safety behind Jessie Bates III and Richie Grant. As the backup center, Ryan Neuzil will slot in at the position in Dalman's place on the starting offensive line.

Andersen's status does not change the Falcons defense, though. Andersen was designated to return from injured reserve just this week. He practiced with the Falcons in limited fashion in Week 18.

Check back in 90 minutes prior to kickoff when the Falcons release their inactives list to find out the official game status of Heinicke, Harrison and Hughes. You can view the full Week 18 injury report here.

Take a look as the Atlanta Falcons put in the work in Flowery Branch for the game against the New Orleans Saints.

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