The healing powers of the bye week.
Several Falcons starters returned to practice on Monday and only one of the 22 opening-day starters, wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, appears to be a long shot to face the Dolphins on Sunday.
Starting right tackle Ryan Schraeder and free safety Ricardo Allen are out of the concussion protocol and practiced Monday in the team’s first day back following a week off. Wide receiver Julio Jones (hip flexor) and defensive end Vic Beasley (hamstring) practiced during the early portion of practice that was open to the media.
Sanu (hamstring), defensive tackle Courtney Upshaw (ankle) and linebacker LaRoy Reynolds (pectoral) worked off to the side with the training staff.
“Injury-wise, we had a lot of guys back today,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. “Man, that was good to see. … You could tell how hard they worked during the off time.”
The Falcons (3-1) are near full-strength when they host the Dolphins (2-2) at 1 p.m. Sunday at Mercedes Benz Stadium.
Schraeder suffered a concussion early in the second game of the season against the Packers on Sept. 17. Ty Sambrailo took over and finished that game and started against the Lions on Sept. 24 and the Bills on Oct. 1.
Beasley suffered a strained right hamstring in the Packers game and was expected to miss at least four weeks.
Allen suffered a concussion against the Lions after a big hit on wide receiver T.J. Jones late in the game. Rookie Damontae Kazee started for him against the Bills.
Jones suffered his injury against the Bills and didn’t play in the second half.
The Falcons placed defensive tackle Jack Crawford, who suffered a torn pectoral muscle against the Bills, on injured reserved last week.
“We are so bummed for Jack and the energy that he (brought),” Quinn said. “That was definitely a setback for us. We’ll miss him for sure.”
The Falcons haven’t made a corresponding roster move and may be keeping a spot open for Reynold’s return. The team worked out several players last week.
Upshaw and Joe Vellano can play tackle. Last season, the Falcons played Derrick Shelby at tackle before he suffered a season-ending achilles injury.
“We feel better about where our health is than maybe a week ago,” Quinn said. “But we are fortunate that if we have to, we have other guys here that we feel have the versatility to play in the different spots. We are encouraged about where we are today without making any other moves.”
The offense should get a boost from the return of Schraeder.
“Having two weeks off, I’m just going to go out there and give everything that I’ve got,” Schraeder said. “It takes a few days to get back going again. We go so hard and fast in practice.”
Sambrailo, who was acquired in a trade with the Broncow for a fifth-round draft pick on Sept. 1, was solid in run blocking but struggled at times in pass protection.
Last season, the Falcons started the same offensive line for all 19 games.
“We do really believe that we are the fastest (offensive) line coming of the ball,” Schraeder said. “The most violent. We really do emphasize that. It might take me a couple of days to adjust, but mentally I’m there.”
Quinn felt that Sambrailo stepped up with Schraeder out.
Schraeder was injured while pulling out to lead running back Devonta Freeman into the end zone.
“It was a weird play and it didn’t look like much,” Schraeder said. “I pulled out there and the corner was going to cut me. I went down and lowered my shoulder. I was going to hit him with my shoulder, but he came here (pointing to the back of his head) with either the knee or the helmet. It hit me in the back of the head. Which was weird because I don’t get hit in the back of the head ever. It just kind of got me.”
Allen was injured after he leveled the thunderous hit at the end of a 29-yard gain on the Lions’ unsuccessful last-ditch drive, which ended with the 10-second run-off.
“The team did a really good job of taking care of me and not rushing me back,” Allen said. “Not forcing me to come back. They showed comfort through all of my time out. I’m just happy to be back.”
With Allen and Beasley back, the defense has a chance to field the 11-man unit that opened the season.
“Those are some great players and guys you can’t replace,” cornerback Desmond Trufant said. “So, it’s definitely good to have them back. We’ll have a good week of practice and get back to it on Sunday.”