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Falcons injury report: Participation levels announced as prep begins ahead of crucial NFC South battle with Saints

Starting quarterback Taylor Heinicke and two others were limited in the first practice of Week 18. 

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Quarterback Taylor Heinicke and two others were limited in Wednesday's practice as the Falcons' prep for a critical NFC South battle began. 

Heinicke (ankle) practiced as a limited participant in two of the three sessions leading up to the Falcons' Week 17 game against the Bears. In the fourth quarter of the loss, Heinicke exited the game with an ankle injury. Heinicke said he felt the ankle worsen late in the third quarter.

"It's progressing," Heinicke said of his injury before practice Wednesday. "I feel pretty optimistic about it." 

Defensive end Zach Harrison (knee) and inside linebacker Troy Andersen (pectoral) were also limited Wednesday. Harrison sustained his injury in the Falcons most recent contest, too. The rookie defensive end left the game in the second quarter but returned shortly after. Andersen was designated to return from injured reserve prior to the practice's start. Wednesday was the first time Andersen has practiced with the Falcons since sustaining his injury in Week 3.

Meanwhile, center Drew Dalman did not participate in practice. Like Heinicke, the offensive lineman also left in the fourth quarter of the loss.

Cornerback Mike Hughes and safety DeMarcco Hellams did not participate in Wednesday's practice, either, as the defensive backs work through the league's concussion protocol. Hughes left the third quarter of the Bears game with a concussion and did not return. Head coach Arthur Smith said Hellams' symptoms emerged after the game. 

Veterans Calais Campbell and Cordarrelle Patterson were also absent from the first practice of the week with their usual Wednesday rest day.

Check back in throughout the week for injury updates leading up to a divisional matchup against the New Orleans Saints that could decide the NFC South winner.

We take a look at the players on the current 53-man roster for the 2023 Atlanta Falcons, sponsored by Veepio.

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