The Washington Commanders are riding a two-game winning streak after dismantling the lousy Houston Texans in Week 12. There’s no time to celebrate the victory, however, as the surprisingly frisky Atlanta Falcons come to FedEx Field on Sunday.
Perhaps the most underrated storyline (or non-story) of Washington’s season thus far has been the team’s lack of crippling injuries. It’s part of why they should be taken seriously in the playoff race. Looking back at previous seasons, it’s typically the teams with the cleanest bill of health that are the last few standing.
While Carson Wentz is a big-time injury, the Commanders have flourished with Taylor Heinicke under center, rattling off four wins in five games. Washington hasn’t been without injuries this year, but it really helps their playoff odds — and chances to beat the Falcons — that their injury report is so limited.
The same cannot be said for Atlanta, which suffered a significant blow this week after star pass catcher Kyle Pitts was placed on injured reserve with a torn MCL suffered in the Falcons’ Week 11 win over the Bears.
Commanders vs Falcons injury report: Atlanta to be without Kyle Pitts for Week 12 matchup
This is a huge deal, as Pitts, a tight end by trade, is one of the game’s most versatile pass-catchers. He lines up all over the field, and likely would’ve commanded the attention of Commanders switchblade Kam Curl. Now, though, Curl can perform his normal role as a free-roamer who fills multiple positions.
In addition to Pitts, the Falcons placed DT Ta’Quon Graham on IR. A fifth-round pick in the 2021 draft, Graham had started nine of 11 games this season, making 34 tackles with eight QB hits and a 73.6 run-defense grade from PFF. As one of the team’s premier run-stuffers, this is another huge loss for the underdogs.
As far as the Commanders go, Chase Young was promoted to the 53-man roster after spending the first 11 games on injured reserve. This move came just before the mandated 21-day activation window closed, and Ron Rivera has preached patience with the young pass rusher, so don’t expect him to play Sunday.
Washington’s been without Cole Holcomb the last three games. It’s currently unclear if the middle linebacker will return for Week 12, but he sat out Wednesday’s practice and will reportedly see a foot specialist. That can’t be a good sign.
Carson Wentz, meanwhile, has been designated to return to practice from injured reserve, but he won’t be activated for Week 12, per Ron Rivera. That means Sam Howell will serve as Taylor Heinicke’s backup for at least one more game.
Benjamin St-Juste didn’t practice Wednesday, either. St-Juste injured his ankle on Darrick Forrest’s INT against the Texans. He told reporters after the game he was fine, so perhaps Washington is being cautious with the second-year corner.
While the Commanders are navigating their own injury concerns, it’s not up for debate which team will be at a disadvantage for Sunday’s game.