A player’s first catch in the NFL can come in a variety of situations. Kevin Cone’s came in Monday’s game and it was as clutch as you’ll find during the Falcons’ fourth-quarter comeback. On the drive to draw within seven, Matt Ryan connected with Cone on third-and-3 for a 12-yard completion and a first down. Two plays later the Falcons found the end zone.
Cone, entering his third season, was on the field because of an injury to starting wide receiver Roddy White. Typically a special teams ace, Cone stepped in and stepped up and now with Julio Jones out for the season and White’s injury uncertainty, he and the entire wide receiver group is going to have to continue to step up. Cone said having to step in for an injured teammate is never how you want to get more time on the field, but injuries come and that’s why they prepare like starters each week.
Ryan said Cone came in and made the play when his number was called and that’s how each player is supposed to play. The quarterback felt all the players were in sync, despite the injuries, and didn’t miss a beat on offense. With Cone and Drew Davis next on the depth chart when they’re needed after the bye week, Ryan thinks they’ll be ready.
“I think Kevin’s a physical guy, a big, strong physical guy,” Ryan said. “Drew is also a big, strong physical guy. Both of those guys have body types similar to Julio. I think they’ll do a good job for us. Certainly they’ll be asked to do more than they what they’ve done up to this point but both of those guys have been here a long time and know our offense really well.”
Just as Cone and Davis’ roles are increasing, Harry Douglas can expect more work as well. Douglas, who came to the Falcons with Ryan during the 2008 draft, is a veteran who is always present in the offense, though not with the frequency of White or Jones. This season is already trending to be the best of his career and he said he just needs to play his game and take advantage of the opportunity.
“You know you’ve got to step up even more,” Douglas said. “Work harder. Focus even more. It’s an opportunity for all of us to step up and make plays and help the team out.”
Douglas’ 13.7 yards-per-catch average this season is second behind Jones’ 14.1. Douglas has 16 passes for 219 yards with a long of 50 yards. Davis has yet to catch a pass this season but last year he caught four passes for 40 yards and a touchdown. The Falcons have receivers Darius Johnson and James Rodgers on the practice squad.
Falcons head coach Mike Smith said on Monday that they’d look to their own roster first should a move need to be made, but they would keep all of their options open.
“We’ve got guys that are on our roster, Kevin Cone and Drew Davis. Harry Douglas will be asked to step up, and if we have to make a roster move, we will look at all options that are available to us there,” Smith said. “We’ve got a couple of receivers on the practice squad that have been working with us, that know our offense and understand our scheme.”