• Ray Cox
  • The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
8:03 p.m Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014 Sports

How important are reserve players in the NFL?

For all the teams (read: Falcons) who like to blame their 2013 demise on the loss of starters to injuries, consider this:


For those teams (read: Falcons) who believe they can get to a Super Bowl with a high-octane offense and a maybe-we’ll-have-a-pass-rush-today defense, consider this: The four remaining NFC teams rank Nos. 1-4 in the league this season in points allowed: 1. Seattle, 2. Carolina, 3. San Francisco and 4. New Orleans.


The Chargers say center Nick Hardwick sustained a concussion as well as a stinger in the victory at Cincinnati, and he will have to pass several tests to be cleared for Sunday’s game. Also, running back Ryan Mathews didn’t practice Wednesday and was in a walking boot on his injured left ankle.


0 Points allowed on opening drives by the Seahawks. Teams usually give up points four times on opening drives in a season.


“We’ve played a lot of big games this year. We won a lot of games in the fourth quarter. We played Sunday night (losing to New Orleans). We played Monday night (beating New England). We played against the 49ers. … We had to come back in the win against Miami. We had to play the Saints at home for the division lead. We had to beat Atlanta to win the division. So we’ve played a lot of big games, too.” — Panthers coach Ron Rivera on whether the 49ers are more playoff tested than Carolina