Falcons already rule out rookie WR Jones vs. Panthers

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons rookie receiver Julio Jones will miss the team's game Sunday against the Carolina Panthers because of a hamstring injury.

Jones pulled up in the fourth quarter of a 25-14 loss to Green Bay while running a deep route down the sideline. He's been able to do some light running with the training staff, but coach Mike Smith said Wednesday there's no chance of the first-round pick playing against the Panthers.

Harry Douglas will start in place of Jones, who has 25 catches for 358 yards. Kerry Meier and Eric Weems should get more playing time out of the three-receiver sets.

"One man's misfortune," Smith said, "is another guy's opportunity.

Six other players also missed practice Wednesday, including defensive end John Abraham (groin) and center Todd McClure (knee). Both continued to be hobbled by injuries that kept them out of the last game. Cornerback Christopher Owens (concussion), safety William Moore (shoulder), offensive guard Garrett Reynolds (ankle) and tight end Tony Gonzalez (elbow) sustained their injuries against the Packers.

Owens and Moore didn't return after leaving the game, and Reynolds was in and out of the lineup trying to deal with his injury.

"This time of the year, you come to expect that you're going to have guys that are not going to be 100 percent healthy," Smith said. "We have to prepare during the week and make sure we have the right workload. We've got to have contingency plans in terms of it this guy can play and how we are going to put our 46-man roster together."

Abraham was initially listed as having a hip injury, but Smith clarified that it's actually a groin problem. That's more problematic for the Falcons, since he's been bothered by similar injuries in the past.

Owens, who works out of the nickel back spot, is another concern. Smith said he's still in the first stage of recovery under the league's tougher rules governing head injuries.

"There's really a number of steps you have to go through ... and it can't happen in the same day," the coach said. "It has got to happen on a different day, and it depends on when we get through that first step. Right now, he's in step one of the protocol."

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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