Falcons need more and less from Douglas

October, 11, 2013
10/11/13
10:57
AM ET
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Since Julio Jones is out for the season and Roddy White is now hobbled with a hamstring injury, it will be odd to see a different pair of receivers line up outside for the Atlanta Falcons the next time out.

Will Harry Douglas be one of them?

"You have to take what the defense gives you, basically," Douglas said. "For me, that’s just going out there and being me. I’m not going to try and be somebody I’m not."

[+] EnlargeHarry Douglas
Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY SportsHarry Douglas may need to line up more on the outside on offense -- and play less on special teams -- with Julio Jones and Roddy White missing.
In other words, don’t expect the Falcons to take Douglas out of his comfort zone as the primary slot receiver. But they may not have a choice but to line him up outside, at times, depending on how offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter tinkers his formations.

During Monday night’s loss to the Jets, Douglas split out wide for 16 snaps after White exited the game. Douglas was targeted three times while playing that role in the fourth quarter and made two catches. He played 38 snaps total.

Head coach Mike Smith was asked about Douglass remaining inside as a slot receiver.

"I think as a coaching staff, we’ve got to put everybody in the best position," Smith said. "Obviously, I think we’ll see some multiplicity in what we want to do with our wide receivers. This is a unique situation that we’re dealing with right now. You’ve got to be multiple. And that’s what we’ll try to do."

The Falcons signed 6-foot-4, 212-pound Brian Robiskie this week with hopes of him filling one of those outside voids. Kevin Cone (6-foot-2, 216) is another bigger receiver who has speed and could be an outside vertical threat, while Drew Davis (6-foot-1, 204) also is in the mix.

As for the 6-foot, 183-pound Douglas, he instantly becomes Matt Ryan's most seasoned receiver -- outside of Tony Gonzalez -- if White is sidelined for a significant period of time. And there is another intriguing element to Douglas’ situation: He is the primary punt returner.

Since Douglas’ role on offense is sure to increase, it’s fair to wonder if the Falcons might take him out of the return game completely. Rookie Robert Alford is listed as the backup punt returner.

The thought of keeping Douglas off special teams to avoid injury was posed to Smith.

"That’s definitely on the table for discussion," Smith said. "We’re going to know a lot more when we get back here on Tuesday."

Vaughn McClure

ESPN Atlanta Falcons reporter

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