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Monday, October 21, 2013
Injury bug can't bite Falcons Ryan

By Vaughn McClure

If Matt Ryan wasn’t aware of it after the game, certainly the Atlanta Falcons quarterback heard the news Sunday evening or Monday morning.

A couple of Ryan’s fellow quarterbacks around the league -- Sam Bradford and Jay Cutler -- suffered significant injuries in Week 7. Bradford’s was a season-ending ACL injury as the Rams lost to the Panthers, while a groin injury knocked Cutler from the Bears’ loss to the Redskins.

Ryan should be on high alert simply based on how injuries have decimated the Falcons through the first six games. They’ve lost top receiver Julio Jones to a season-ending foot injury, while running back Steven Jackson has been out since Week 2 with a hamstring injury. Not to mention Roddy White (hamstring, ankle), who missed the first game of his career on Sunday.

So you wonder what went through Ryan's mind in the first quarter of Sunday’s win over Tampa Bay, when Buccaneers defensive end Trevor Scott picked up a penalty for roughing the passer. Scott’s high hit sent Ryan tumbling back and probably had Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter holding his breath.

I asked Ryan if such as hit made him more aware of avoiding a significant injury.

"It’s part of the game,’’ Ryan said. "I think it’s one of those things; you just have to deal with it. You have to keep moving and keep moving forward. And as a player specifically during the game, you just keep getting up and keep going.’’

It helps when your offensive line keeps you clean. That’s exactly what happened to Ryan Sunday. He wasn’t sacked as he completed 20 of 26 passes for 273 yards and three scores while posting a career-best passer rating of 148.4.

"I thought our offensive line stepped up to the task,’’ Ryan said afterward. "That’s a good front four, a really good front four. Our guys came to play and, collectively, I think having had those guys play a little bit more together, having had a little bit more experience together, I think they’re starting to play pretty good football.’’

Ryan last missed a game in December of 2009, when he was inactive for two games with turf toe. He has started every game the past four seasons. Surely the Falcons want to keep that streak going.