Here are five things to know before today’s Falcons (1-7) at Saints (7-1) kickoff at 1 p.m. at the Superdome:
1. Injury report: Running back Ito Smith was placed on injured reserve with a neck injury on Saturday.
Offensive guard Sean Harlow was elevated to the 53-man roster.
Smith was drafted by the Falcons in the fourth round in 2018 and has played in 21 games, rushing for 421 yards and five touchdowns on 112 carries. He also has caught 38 passes for 239 yards and five touchdowns.
Harlow was drafted by the Falcons in the fourth round of the 2017 draft and has spent time on the Falcons’ practice squad in the years since.
Defensive end John Cominsky (ankle) and guard Wes Schweitzer (concussion) were declared out on Friday by coach Dan Quinn.
Quarterback Matt Ryan (sprain ankle) was declared ready for the game, while cornerback Desmond Trufant (turf toe) will be a game-time decision. The Saints are getting back tight end Jared Cook (ankle) and running back Alvin Kamara (knee/ankle).
2. Series history. The Falcons lead the series, 51-48. However, the Saints have won the last three meetings. The Falcons are 1-0 over the Saints in their one playoff meeting.
3. Hooper watch: Falcons tight end Austin Hooper had a touchdown reception in each of the past three games. He leads all tight ends with 52 catches and ranks se
cond in the league with 591 yards receiving and touchdowns (five). He’s on pace to catch 104 passes on the season.
4. Where to watch, listen and stream. The game will be on Fox Sports with Kevin Burkhardt handling the play-by-play, Charles Davis as analysis and Pam Oliver as the field reporter.
5. Key Matchups: Here are three key matchups to watch in the game:
Falcons RT Kaleb McGary vs. Saints DE Cam Jordan: McGary needs to come out and establish himself against the dynamic Cam Jordan, who took to Twitter to bemoan the release of former right tackle Ryan Schraeder. The Falcons have the 13th rated pass blocking line (21 sacks, 6.4 percent sack ratio), according to footballoutsiders.com. Jordan, a four-time Pro Bowler, leads the Saints with eight sacks. The nine-year veteran is working on his fifth season of double-digit sacks.
Falcons CB Desmond Trufant vs. Saints WR Michael Thomas: The Falcons love to play their zones, but may need to consider matching Trufant on Thomas, if he’s fully recovered form his turf toe. Trufant has missed the last three games, but the Falcons have an all hands on deck mentality with the hopes of ending their six-game losing streak. Thomas has 73 catches for 874 yards and four touchdowns. “When you look at the completion percentage when they throw it to him, I think it’s one of the highest that I know I’ve been accustomed to seeing,” Falcons defensive passing game coordinator Jerome Henderson said. “They do a really good job of moving him around, featuring him and putting him in spots where it’s hard to get to him.”
Falcons LB Deion Jones vs. Saints RB Latavius Murray/Alvin Kamara: Jones has 60 tackles including seven tackles for losses. He has one pass breakup and no interceptions. With Kamara out, Murray rushed 21 times for 108 yards and a touchdown in the 31-9 win over the Cardinals before the bye week. He also caught 9 of 12 targets for 55 yards. Kamara has missed the past two games with ankle/knee injuries, but is expected to play. “They’ve got good backs,” Jones said. “We’ve got to do what we’ve got to do.”
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