The news Monday that cornerback Brent Grimes would miss the rest of the 2012 season after suffering an Achilles tendon injury against the Chiefs seemed to reverberate around the Falcons locker room Tuesday.
The secondary, in particular, knows that the onus is on them to step up and pick up the slack now that the Pro Bowl cornerback is on the shelf for the year.
"It's hard. He's one of my closest friends on the team. We spend a lot of time together," safety Thomas DeCoud said of Grimes on Tuesday. "It's just one of those things where I have to fight through it, as well. I'm missing one of my closest guys back there, so I've got to stay focused and make sure I keep myself in the game.
"It's not going to be a problem, but it's gonna be hard looking over there and not seeing 20."
That's the sentiment a lot of Falcons fans have expressed since head coach Mike Smith made the announcement during his Monday news conference, but Smith isn't dwelling on the loss, and he doesn't expect his team to, either.
Smith said Monday it's the next-man-up mentality, and on the Falcons roster, the next men up are Chris Owens and Dominique Franks — both of whom Smith expects to compete for the open nickel position.
"You've got to approach it with a little bit of excitement. It's a Monday night game, so you've got to be excited about that," Owens said Tuesday. "I'm excited about the opportunity, and it's all about being focused and we've got a great challenge with Peyton (Manning) ahead of us, so it's gonna be a good one."
For Dunta Robinson and Asante Samuel, not a whole lot changes. Of course, Samuel moves out to Grimes' position on the left side while Robinson will stay on the right instead of moving to nickel in those formations, but the preparation stays the same.
Since Day 1, the three have been cross-trained at all the CB positions so that there's a level of comfort and familiarity there.
"We've taken a lot of snaps with the three of us being on the field at the same time, and now it's just two of us on the field at the same time," Robinson said. "We've had a lot of snaps with each other. We'll continue to do the things that we've done and just try to go out there and execute. No matter who's on the field, everybody wants to go out and do the same thing, and that's execute and make plays."