The Falcons are set to start their fall road trip, which will last over a week and include stops in Denver and Seattle.
After facing the Broncos on Sunday, the Falcons will spend next week practicing at the University of Washington in Seattle leading up to their Oct. 16 game against the Seahawks.
The Falcons (3-1), winners of three in a row, face their most daunting task of the young season in the defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos (4-0), who don’t appear to have missed a beat after the retirement of legendary quarterback Peyton Manning.
While the Broncos’ staunch defense has carried them early, the Falcons are likely to see second-year quarterback Trevor Siemian, who suffered a left shoulder injury against Tampa Bay on Sunday. Rookie Paxton Lynch, who made his NFL debut after Siemian went down, is waiting in the wings.
“Trevor is our starting quarterback and hopefully, he is going to be OK,” Denver coach Gary Kubiak told reporters in Denver on Monday.
Lynch, a first-round draft pick from Memphis, finished off the 27-6 win over the Bucs.
“I’m really proud of Paxton and how he came in and played,” Kubiak said. “We felt fortunate with Trevor and hopefully, we’ll be day-to-day here and get him to next week.”
Siemian, who played at Northwestern and was the third-stringer last season behind Manning and Brock Osweiler, is expected to miss practice time.
“That would never be a problem with him, because he’s very bright with what we’re doing,” Kubiak said. “We’ll push to get there and be as good as we can be against Atlanta, but we’re going to make decisions once we get to the end of the week.”
Siemian was body-slammed by Tampa Bay defensive tackle Clinton McDonald with 3:25 left in the second quarter. Siemian landed on his left shoulder and remained on the field for one more play before Lynch closed out the game.
“We’re probably going to need them both,” Kubiak said. “It’s just kind of the nature of the business nowadays. Here we are, four weeks into the season, and we’ve used them both to get to where we’re at.”
The Falcons’ passing attacking, coming off Matt Ryan’s franchise-record 503-yard performance against Carolina, faces a stiff challenge. The Broncos, led by Super Bowl MVP Von Miller, lead the league with 17 sacks. Miller (5.5 sacks), Derek Wolfe (four), Shane Ray (three) and DeMarcus Ware (two) lead the Broncos’ vaunted rush.
The Falcons have given up nine sacks, which is tied for the 21st in the league.
“We know we’ll have our work cut out for us, you know, the edge rushes they have,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. “I think they’ve got a terrific defense. The way they play their coverage on the back end, the speed that they play with at linebacker and inside, they play tough as can be.”
The Falcons will need to run the ball to slow down Denver’s rush. The Broncos are giving up 113.8 yards rushing per game, which is 22nd in the league.
“We’re at our best when it’s not just a drop-back game,” Quinn said.
Scheduled against the AFC West and NFC West this year, the Falcons requested back-to-back West dates from the league. Quinn sees the time away from home and families as a chance for the team to bond.
“You don’t know which (schedule) you’re going to get but when we had the opportunity to do that, I thought, man, it came at a great time for us, right at the beginning of the season, for our team to spend a whole week together out on the road,” Quinn said. “I’m really pumped for these guys to have the opportunity to do that.”