Originally created 09/22/04

Dunn to give injured knee time to heal

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. - Coach Jim Mora doesn't expect running back Warrick Dunn to practice when the Atlanta Falcons return to the field today.

Dunn ran for two touchdowns in a 34-17 win over St. Louis last week, but a sprained left knee forced him to the sideline after his second score early in the fourth quarter gave the Falcons a seven-point lead.

Atlanta (2-0) plays host to the Arizona Cardinals (0-2) at the Georgia Dome at 1 p.m. Sunday.

"It's pretty common for your top backs to take a day or two off just to give their bodies a rest," Mora said Tuesday afternoon. "They take such a beating out there that some time off can do them a lot of good."

T.J. Duckett, who had 10 starts last year and averaged 4.0 yards per carry in 16 games overall, will replace Dunn if necessary. Drafted 18th overall out of Michigan State in 2002, Duckett is no slouch. He has 1,286 career rushing yards and last season ran for 11 touchdowns, but he needs to improve his blocking.

Though the 5-foot-9, 180-pound Dunn is 3 inches shorter and 75 pounds lighter than Duckett, he is far more reliable in pass protection.

After the game Sunday, Dunn was fearful of a sprained medial collateral ligament, an injury that's fairly common and one that usually heals itself with inactivity.

Nose tackle Ed Jasper suffered a torn MCL in training camp, but missed only a few days. Jasper played the season-opening win at San Francisco with a brace, something that likely would hinder Dunn too much.

Mora said he was unsure if flanker Brian Finneran (left Achilles) and Rod Coleman (right hamstring) would practice today.

Fans who liked Mora's decision to send Dunn over right guard on fourth-and-one at the 2-yard line Sunday can expect similar moves - just so long as the situation is right.

"Our staff plans for every scenario imaginable, so if a call presents itself at times like those, we're going to go for it," Mora said. "You just have to be careful and be sure you're putting players in a position to succeed."

In a staff meeting last Tuesday, Mora consulted with general manager Rich McKay and his three coordinators - Joe DeCamillis (special teams), Greg Knapp (offense) and Ed Donatell (defense) - to pick spots they thought St. Louis might be vulnerable.

They agreed that Jay Feely should try an onside kick if they took a 7-0 lead on the Rams, so the team had the third-year place-kicker work Friday at the Dome to hone his technique and ball recovery.

Feely pulled off the play easily after the Falcons' first touchdown.

"I'm just glad we have aggressive coaches that are going to lay it on the line, and they're going to go after it," Feely said. "They're not afraid to make a mistake or to not get a play like that."


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