Chill out dude, the glimmering picture on your boob tube is just fine. I'm talking about HD as in Harry Douglas, No. 3 on the Dirty Bird wide receiver depth chart.
I need not ask readers how they reacted when they found out that the dynamic pass catcher and punt returner went down with a torn ACL. My only question is: Have you opened your eyes and ungritted your teeth yet?
It hurts a lot. We've just lost a guy for the season who I was extremely high on; back in the spring, I even went so far as to predict he might challenge Michael Jenkins for the No. 2 role. And though commentators quickly jumped all over me, SportsNation's Pat Yasinkas later said the exact same thing.
But do not despair, especially not in the disruptive way I did when I first read the ESPN.com headline while sitting in my cubicle. The season is not lost. Our dynamic special teams have taken a hit for sure, but the offense isn't really any worse off—besides the fact that we lost a body for a minute.
Brian Finneran may not have two knees, but he does have one and some sort of alien prosthesis, and I heard through the grapevine he's managing just fine. Of course, we've also already signed a couple more guys (vets Marty Booker and Robert Ferguson) to bolster the corps as camp continues. Then there are undrafted rookies Aaron Kelly and Darren Mougey, with second-year man Eric Weems waiting in the wings.
Add to all that the rumor going around that our big offseason acquisition can catch passes, too (Gonzo's got good hands? Who knew?), and maybe we aren't going to be short on legitimate targets.
So assuage your fear that the Falcons won't easily make the top five offensive squads in the league. It's hard not to hate the fact that Douglas won't be making noise bringing back booted balls in '09, but after the following things happen, you'll start feeling right as rain:
- Forward progress in the Roddy White negotiations: The injury is going to prompt one party (White and his representation) or the other (Thomas Dimitroff and the rest of the Falcons brass) to make some concessions and get Roddy into camp. Whether White makes an extremely mature and gracious gesture by realizing his team needs him now more than ever, or Dimitroff begins to see how important it is for players to feel properly taken care of, this holdout ain't meant to last.
I refuse to paint either side as "right" or "wrong" in the situation, as both have their reasons. White fears an injury and wants some long-term security, while Dimitroff can't cave to every whim of his stars. This is a case in which I expect men to act like men, though, and get things settled soon.
- The emergence of someone else on the roster: I listed some of the names before, but you probably are seeking specifics, so I'll go ahead and divulge what my gut tells me. Eric Weems will not only make the roster, but play a lot more than he did last season. And for good reason.
He's not exactly prototypical pro-wideout size, but therein lies the beauty. His stature and shiftiness (which is similar to Douglas') complement the classic WR frames of White and Jenkins (not to mention the relative hulks that are Finneran, Gonzalez, Kelly, and Mougey).
- Thomas Brown proving he has a place in the NFL: Forgive me for a little University of Georgia bias, but I have several good reasons for believing in the sophomore as a punt returner. First, there's the obvious, and that's that Tommy is a friggin' cannonball.
But beyond that, there's also the fact that he brought it back a bit in college and has just the right type of hands for this sort of work, and that he's got that much-glorified "low center of gravity" that makes him difficult to stop, let alone bring down. He's also just a really determined young man with a slight chip on his shoulder after having his carries cut back during his senior season at UGA and getting no pro-game burn last year.
It's barely been two days since the injury, and the message boards are aflame, contracts have been signed, and speculation is running rampant. That's OK; I wouldn't have it any other way, fellow Falcons fans.
I take heart knowing that this front office is more proactive than any other in Atlanta's history, and in the fact that there are some free agent names still floating around out there just in case we want a little more insurance.
But, after some reflection and deep, deep breathing, I've come to the conclusion that losing Harry does not screw over our attempt at back-to-back winning seasons. Stuff like this helps keep my optimism in check, which is probably a good thing. I am now better prepared to handle a close loss (which may very well come as a result of a slightly weakened punt return unit).
We alright, Dirty Birds. Get well soon Harry!