Duckett likely out this week

Reporter
Posted Oct 19, 2005


FLOWERY BRANCH - An extra day of rest is likely will not give Falcons running back T.J. Duckett enough time to return before Monday night, when Atlanta hosts the New York Jets.

T.J. Duckett left last week's win over the Saints after suffering a severely sprained right ankle in the second quarter. The fourth-year veteran, who wore a walking boot as he boarded the team bus in San Antonio, probably can't practice again until the Falcons return from an Oct. 30 bye to begin preparing for a Nov. 6 game at Miami.

Atlanta head coach Jim Mora gave the players Wednesday off, but the club prepared for Duckett's absence against the Jets by signing rookie DeAndra Cobb off the practice squad and releasing linebacker Martin Patterson.

The Falcons (4-2) need some depth behind Warrick Dunn, their No. 1 running back. New York (2-4) catches a break avoiding the 254-pound Duckett, who leads Atlanta with four rushing touchdowns.

Behind Dunn, Duckett and quarterback Michael Vick, the Falcons have the league's No. 1 ground attack for the second straight year. Dunn gained at least 100 yards in two of his last three games and in seven of 12 dating back to last season.

In a 34-31 victory at San Antonio last week, Dunn made his 24 consecutive start he a torn ligament at the base of his toes landed him on season-ending injured reserve in November 2003. He has 406 rushing yards over the last two games.

"I think team-wise it helps me and the way they're trying to utilize me with touches and everything else, it helps me for the long haul," Dunn said. "Our system works because every guy knows his role and does his job. It's not just me."

Vick leads the NFL in yards per carry (7.1) and first downs per attempt (45 percent). The 180-pound Dunn ranks fourth in the NFC with a team-best 96.2 yards per game, but Atlanta will miss the change-of-pace problems it gives opponents with Duckett.

Over the last two years, Duckett has led the league in fewest number of attempts (two) for negative yardage for backs averaging at least five carries per game. His four rushing touchdowns this year give him 25 in his career and tie him with Haskel Stanback, a Falcon from 1974-79, for the No. 4 spot in franchise history.

Only Gerald Riggs (48), Jamal Anderson (34) and William Andrews (30) have more rushing scores than Duckett.

Cobb, a sixth-round draft choice from Michigan State, was on the 53-man roster for the first two weeks of the season but inactive for both games. The Falcons have had just two running backs and two fullbacks active this year.

It's unclear if Cobb will dress against the Jets because Atlanta coaches consider starting fullback Justin Griffith as the No. 3 running back.

When training camp started in late July, Cobb was projected to win a roster spot as the primary kickoff returner, but he failed to impress even though he ran back an attempt 101 yards in a preseason win over Tennessee.


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