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Sunday, October 6, 2013
Asante Samuel could be back Monday night

By Vaughn McClure

Signs point to Atlanta Falcons cornerback Asante Samuel returning to action this week.

After Saturday’s practice, Samuel stopped for an extended interview with Lisa Salters of ESPN’s "Monday Night Football" crew. Hours later, he was declared questionable on the injury report with a thigh injury.

Samuel
But there is no question Samuel looked better later in the week than he did after apparently tweaking his thigh -- again -- before last Sunday’s matchup with the New England Patriots. He missed facing his old teammates and also was sidelined for a Week 1 loss to the Saints because of his ailing thigh.

The Falcons seem rather ill without Samuel. They are 0-2 when he’s not in the lineup with losses to Drew Brees and Tom Brady.

That’s not to say Samuel would have made a difference in either outcome, but at least it would have given a team playing two rookie cornerbacks -- Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford -- a bit more of a comfort zone.

Falcons coach Mike Smith talked about the possibility of having Samuel back.

"We certainly have missed him not only against the Patriots, but against the Saints as well," Smith said. "Asante’s a very savvy defensive back. We need him because he’s one of our best 11 players."

The fact that the Jets will be without Santonio Holmes (foot/hamstring) and could be without tight end Kellen Winslow (knee) could make life easier on the Falcons. Regardless, Samuel would help his team avoid giving up big plays. The Falcons have surrendered seven plays of 40-plus yards.

Not to mention Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith has been plagued by turnovers. Samuel is the only player in NFL history to register at least one interception return for a touchdown in each of his first six NFL seasons. He is due for a pick-six, as long as his thigh holds up.

Based on the way he moved around Saturday, Samuel should be ready to go.