It's true—Pierre Garcon went through a full week of practice for the Washington Redskins this week and will be on the field against the unbeaten Atlanta Falcons on Sunday afternoon at FedEx Field in our nation's capital.
But that doesn't mean you should insert him into your starting lineup this week.
Garcon, who missed two-and-a-half weeks with a foot injury, is not yet 100 percent, and as he tells Mark Maske of the Washington Post, he doesn't know when he will feel like himself:
It’s going to take some time to feel back like my old self, like it was in training camp. But it’s a process. It’s a battle. But it’s coming along.
You never really know…until Sunday, until you get out there and go all out…. Eventually I’ll put it past me. But there’s no set time [or] date for it. It’s part of football. If it’s not one injury, it’s another injury….It’s getting better every day.
It's true that Garcon returned to the field last week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, catching one pass for 20 yards. It's also true that Redskins' QB Robert Griffin III is a dynamic playmaker who spreads the ball around as well as any rookie quarterback in recent memory.
But the Falcons boast a stout pass defense, one that ranks eighth in the league against the pass, allowing only 207 yards per game through the air.
Of the four passing touchdowns they have allowed, only two have gone to wide receivers: one to the Broncos' Demaryius Thomas in Week 2—a catch that required a phenomenal toe-drag by Thomas to count—and a 36-yard score to the Panthers' Kealoah Pilares, whom the Falcons managed to not cover on the only play he saw during last week's game.
They won't forget to cover Garcon, who by his own words sounds like he'll continue to be somewhat limited by his foot injury, consistently testing his pain threshold and leaving him one misstep away from re-aggravating the injury.
To that end, the Falcons defense under new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan figures to bring a number of different looks to the field against a rookie quarterback, delaying blitzes and disguising coverage as they try to confuse, confound and slow down the dynamic Griffin.
It's understandable why you'd want to thrust Garcon back into your starting lineup, given the production he put forth in the first half of the Redskins' first game of the season, when he had four catches for 109 yards and a long touchdown.
But expecting him to reproduce those numbers against the Falcons this week will leave you disappointed that you didn't keep him on your bench for another week. He's no better than a third receiver or flex option for Week 5, and you should consider other options seriously before settling on Garcon in your lineup.