Ryan sits out practice
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan sat out another practice Thursday because of a toe injury, making it increasingly unlikely he'll be able to play against the unbeaten New Orleans Saints.
While Ryan took part in a walkthrough, which was closed to the media, he wasn't even at the indoor practice facility for the main 2½-hour workout. Chris Redman ran the first-team offense.
Even so, coach Mike Smith isn't ready to say for sure that Ryan won't play Sunday.
"He was with us in the walkthrough," Smith said. "He did more today than he did yesterday. We would make an announcement if we knew for sure he wouldn't play. We're not ready to make that announcement."
Ryan hurt the big toe on his right foot in a Nov. 29 victory over Tampa Bay. He sat out last weekend's game against Philadelphia, along with four other offensive starters, and the Falcons (6-6) lost 34-7 to severely damage their playoff hopes.
Now, it looks as though they might have to face the Saints (12-0) without Ryan and star running back Michael Turner, who also missed practice and is struggling to get over a lingering high ankle sprain.
Turner was the NFL's second-leading rusher a year ago and is pacing the Falcons again with 864 yards despite missing two games and part of two others since he was initially hurt Nov. 15. He tried to come back two weeks ago and re-injured his right ankle.
"We're missing a Pro Bowl running back and our franchise quarterback," receiver Roddy White moaned.
Ryan's absence was especially noticeable in the last game. Redman had at least four passes batted down at the line and threw two interceptions, one of which was returned 83 yards for a touchdown.
"Matt does a lot of things good. He gets us out of a lot of bad situations," White said. "He takes control in the huddle. He's a big part of what we do."
Adding to the injury woes, starting cornerback Chris Houston (hamstring) and backup tight end Justin Peele (head injury) are definitely out for Sunday's game.
Also, offensive guard Harvey Dahl still hasn't returned to practice because of a hamstring injury that kept him out of last weekend's debacle, while left tackle Sam Baker is trying to come back with a large pad protecting his ailing left elbow. Center Todd McClure is limited by a knee injury, but he expects to play against the Saints.
"With all those guys, you know what you're getting," White said. "It's real tough right now."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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