Falcons-Panthers: Three injured Atlanta offensive players return

Dave Holcomb

The Atlanta Falcons will receive a much-needed offensive boost with the returns of wide receiver Julio Jones and tight end Austin Hooper. Both were listed as active for Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers.

Jones missed last week's matchup with the New Orleans Saints because of a shoulder injury, but he's had 10 days to recover since sitting out on Thanksgiving. Hooper has missed the last three games with a knee ailment.

The Falcons defeated the Panthers, 29-3, on Nov. 17 without Hooper. Jones made some big plays in the matchup, though, recording six catches for 91 yards in the victory.

Atlanta has lost two straight to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Saints since then. The Falcons allowed 15 combined sacks in those games. While Jones and Hooper won't be of much assistance in pass blocking, perhaps quarterback Matt Ryan will be able to get rid of the ball quicker Sunday because his favorite two receivers are back in the lineup.

First-round pick and guard Chris Lindstrom will make his return to the starting lineup Sunday as well. Lindstrom broke his foot in Week 1 and hasn't played since then. 

Although the Falcons technically don't have anything to play for, Lindstrom's development this month is rightfully one of the team's top goals heading into next year. And again, Ryan could certainly use better pass protection.

With Lindstrom returning, fellow guards James Carpenter and Jamon Brown are inactive for Week 14. Offensive tackle Ty Sambrailo is also inactive.

Here are the rest of Atlanta's inactive players in Week 14:

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