Falcons limp into bye week with several injuries

FLOWERY BRANCH -- The Falcons received several injury scares in Detroit on Sunday and will spend their bye week in a rest and recovery mode.

Fullback Ovie Mughelli and quarterback Matt Ryan suffered knee injuries in Sunday’s 23-16 win over the Lions. Mughelli was hurt in the fourth quarter when his right knee was hit by the helmet of Lions tackler Louis Delmas; Mughelli did not return and was on crutches following the game. Ryan injured his left knee in the third quarter when offensive lineman Will Svitek stepped on his ankle; the quarterback missed just two plays.

Falcons coach Mike Smith offered no updates on the condition of his offensive starters on Monday.

“This week we are going radio silence for the bye week,” Smith said.

The NFL does not require teams to provide injury updates during their bye week. Smith said it was his policy to announce whether a player had suffered a season-ending injury. However, prior to Monday’s news conference, he had not met with team doctors to discuss the extent of several injuries.

Mughelli used social media on Monday to update his condition, posting the following message on Twitter: “Thx for all the love and support guys. I promise I’m OK. It looked worse than it is. I heard the slo mo look bad on TV. I’ll be back soon.”

Mughelli missed time earlier this season with a knee injury.

Smith gave players the entire bye week off. He originally planned to hold practices Tuesday and Wednesday and release the team for the NFL-mandated four days off. However, he informed his players immediately following the win over the Lions that they did not need to return to the team’s practice facility until Monday. Smith said he made the decision late last week to give the players the entire week off if they defeated the Lions. He made the announcement in the post-game locker room.

“Guys talk, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we win and coach just says you know what, take the week off,’” defensive lineman Corey Peters said. “Coach Smith is not a guy to usually change the schedule, that extreme anyway. Lots of guys are rushing to change plans and flights.

“When he started talking [following the game], you could feel it building. It was great.”

Ryan was hurt on a third-down play early in the second quarter, sending a scare throughout the entire Falcons team. Although he was in considerable pain, Ryan indicated he thought he would be able to return, according to Smith.

“It looked a lot worse that it actually turned out to be, I can assure you that,” Smith said.

Ryan was examined by trainers and briefly went to the locker room. He returned during the team’s next series with backup Chris Redmon at quarterback. Facing a third-and-8, Smith went looking for Ryan.

“He was on the sideline and I was running behind the bench asking if we could get him out there,” Smith said. “He said, ‘Let me try to take a drop.’ By God, it was one full sweep. He took his drop and ran right back into the huddle and completed a 47-yard [actually 49] completion.”

Ryan completed the first-down pass to Harry Douglas to extend the drive, which resulted in a field goal that gave the Falcons a 20-9 lead.

The Falcons have several other injuries going into the bye week. Wide receiver Julio Jones has missed the past two games with a left hamstring injury. Defensive back Christopher Owens (concussion) also missed his second straight game. Offensive lineman Sam Baker (lower back) missed Sunday’s game and fellow lineman Garrett Reynolds (ankle) has been slowed.

The defensive line also is in need of a week off, according to Smith. Jonathan Babineaux recently returned from knee surgery and John Abraham missed last week’s game against the Panthers with a groin injury. Ray Edwards is still regaining strength in his surgically repaired knee. Peters also missed time with a knee injury.

“This is going to be a big week for us in terms of getting some guys healthy,” Smith said. “We’ve got some guys that have missed time, especially on our defensive line, that should get healthier.”