What are the Falcons thankful for this Thanksgiving?

Atlanta Falcons head coach Raheem Morris (center) prepares his team to play the Detroit Lions in an NFL football game on Sunday, Oct 25, 2020 in Atlanta.   “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”
Atlanta Falcons head coach Raheem Morris (center) prepares his team to play the Detroit Lions in an NFL football game on Sunday, Oct 25, 2020 in Atlanta. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”

Credit: Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

With most of the nation watching the Thanksgiving Day parade, for the third year in a row the Falcons will be on the football field.

Unlike the past two seasons when they played the Saints on national television, they’ll just practice in Flowery Branch this year. The Falcons (3-7) are getting ready to face the upstart Las Vegas Raiders (6-4) at 1 p.m. Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

But during the coronavirus pandemic, several of the Falcons shared what their favorite Thanksgiving dish is and what they are particularly thankful for in the season of giving.

“My favorite Thanksgiving food, I’ll go green-bean casserole,” Falcon starting right guard Chris Lindstrom said. “So, my mom always made a great green-bean casserole. I’m a huge sucker for that.”

Lindstrom, unsolicited, defended his choice.

“I know it’s kind of 50/50,” Lindstrom said. “Some people love it. Other people hate it. But that’s where I’m at. I appreciated the food-centric question.”

Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones had a more traditional dish.

“My mom makes some bomb turkey,” Jones said. “It’s crazy. I don’t eat ham. But this turkey makes me … (laughs).”

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan clearly is not a picky Thanksgiving eater.

“My favorite Thanksgiving food, that’s tough,” Ryan said. “There are so many good ones. Any of the carbs. Any carbohydrates are good. The starchier the better on Thanksgiving.”

Falcons special-teams coordinator Bernie Parmalee looks forward to macaroni and cheese and chitterlings on his Thanksgiving plate.

“And the Honey Baked Ham, you have to have some ham,” Parmalee said.

Ryan was asked which player not to get behind in a proverbial Thanksgiving Day buffet line.

“I had Hibachi one time with Grady Jarrett, and I think that was the most food that I’ve seen a human being put down,” Ryan said. “I guess Grady would be my guess. If you wanted something, you better get in front of him. He can eat pretty good.”

It’s been a difficult season for the Falcons during the pandemic. A total of 12 players have gone on the NFL’s reserve/COVID-19 list and one coach, Jess Simpson, has tested positive.

They’ve had to shut down the facilities twice, and on top of the life issues, coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff were fired after an 0-5 start.

Despite the tough times, there were things the Falcons were thankful for.

“I’m most thankful, obviously, for my family,” Ryan said. “I’ve got an amazing wife and two young boys. We are all doing great. Our extended family is all healthy during these times, so we’re thankful for that.”

Lindstrom also was thankful for his family.

“I have a really supportive family,” Lindstrom said. “I love them and thank them for everything that they do. I’m also thankful for the great teammates that I have. It’s actually really fun to come into work every day with a good group of guys. It’s been really fun and a dream come true.”

Falcons interim coach Raheem Morris mostly was thankful about the football matters.

“I’m seriously thankful for the opportunities that I’ve been given in life,” Morris said. “Here’s one right in front of us. A chance for us to go out here and play the (Las Vegas) Raiders and go 1-0 and keep that mentality.”

The Falcons are 3-2 under Morris.

“We the ability to bounce back,” Morris said. “I couldn’t wait to get to my team meeting this morning. I can’t wait to get to practice (Wednesday) and I can’t wait to be around the guys. I can’t wait for the next challenge.

“It’s like this game, you have a bunch of ups and downs, but you’ve got the guys and people around you who can absolutely bring stuff to the light. That’s what you’ve got to be thankful for. It’s a beautiful thing.”

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