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.
After five relatively healthy seasons under Smith, Atlanta has been bombarded with injuries this year.
Running back Steven Jackson and linebacker Sean Weatherspoon have missed the last three games, and the team isn’t sure when they will return.
Two starters, defensive end Kroy Biermann and fullback Bradie Ewing, were lost for the season in Week 1, and right tackle Mike Johnson’s year ended in training camp.
Three other starters — Sam Baker, cornerback Asante Samuel and linebacker Akeem Dent — have missed significant time, too.
And 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 Wednesday in Charlotte, N.C., 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.”