The bye week is traditionally the week when players use the extended time off to get back as close to 100 percent healthy as they can. When the Falcons returned to practice on Monday, they saw the return of a player that's been out since last season ended in January.
Corey Peters, injured during the offseason and absent on the practice field for all of OTAs, minicamp and training camp, was cleared to return to practice on Monday and while he was limited, he was back on the field and a welcomed addition to Atlanta's defense.
Falcons head coach Mike Smith said on Monday they would ease Peters back into practice over the week before making final decisions on his availability for Sunday's game against the Eagles. Peters is taking his time, but on Wednesday he said he's doing everything he can to get back to where he was last season.
"We're killing it in practice," Peters said. "We're trying to go full speed. We're going to do the best we can. I need to have it in my head that I'm back to normal and everything is good. With the foot injury, I think there's always a little doubt in your head because you use it so much. It's so important and used in everything you do, walking around and running. I think we need to really test it out and go full speed in practice and hopefully get my football legs back under me as soon as possible."
With Peters out, the Falcons have been thin at defensive tackle and starter Jonathan Babineaux, who is having a great season, has played a lot of snaps. In Week 6, he played 95 percent of the defensive snaps and in Week 5, he played every snap on D.
"Babs is an ironman," Peters said. "He's one of the few defensive tackles that is capable of doing that. He's a tough guy, I'm sure he'll definitely tell you he'll play all the snaps until I'm able to come back and make an impact."
Peters said he's knocking off the rust and trying to get back into the flow of things as he returns to football shape. He said he hopes to play Sunday, but regardless he's excited to be back on the field. A arduous opponent for the Falcons looms in Michael Vick and the Eagles on Sunday and he is confident if he does play, it won't be a ton right out of the gate, especially against a quarterback as mobile as Vick.
"This will definitely be a tough test, but I'm sure we'll come up with a plan some kind of way to limit reps as we start off and ease my way back into it," Peters said.