FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith sounded dismayed while discussing his team’s latest major injury.
This time the bad news concerned Pro Bowl receiver Julio Jones, who could miss the rest of the season after injuring his foot in Monday’s 30-28 home loss to the New York Jets.
“He saw our doctors this morning,” Smith said Tuesday. “He is going to have a second opinion tomorrow. The first reports were not encouraging, but we will wait and see what the second opinion comes back as.”
Atlanta (1-4) heads into its bye week riding a three-game losing streak, a tough reality check for a team that’s never dropped more than two straight regular season games in six seasons under Smith.
The Falcons’ four losses have come by an average of 4.8 points, dropping the defending NFC South champions four games behind division-leading New Orleans.
Offensively, Atlanta has faltered late in potential game-winning situations at New Orleans and at home against New England. Defensively, the Falcons have given up late leads at Miami and against the Jets.
“We’re disappointed,” Smith said. “We’re discouraged. I think we’re living proof of how close games are in the NFL. It comes down to a handful of plays, and we haven’t made them. In years past, we’ve been in games like these and we’ve made the plays.”
Roddy White, a four-time Pro Bowl receiver, left Monday’s game and did not return after tweaking a hamstring. White has played since preseason with a high ankle sprain, and his 14 catches and 129 yards receiving are far below the average production of his first five games over the last six seasons.
Losing Jones only makes conditions worse.
Jones, the No. 6 overall draft pick of 2011, leads the NFL with 41 catches and ranks second with 580 yards receiving.
Smith said that Jones will see a foot specialist today in Charlotte for a second opinion. The coach refused to say which foot Jones hurt.
Jones was X-rayed after the game, and results were negative, but a CAT-scan Tuesday showed something more serious.
“He’s going to be a hard guy to replace if we have to replace him,” Smith said. “We’ve got guys that are on our roster in Kevin Cone and Drew Davis. Harry (Douglas) will be asked to step up and if we have to make a roster move, we will look at all options that are available to us there.”
Without Jones, White and Jackson, quarterback Matt Ryan has but one elite playmaker, tight end Tony Gonzalez, who’s healthy.