Falcons QB Ryan might not play vs. Saints after missing practice

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan sat out another practice because of his toe injury, making it increasingly unlikely that he'll be able to play Sunday against the unbeaten New Orleans Saints.

Ryan took part in a walkthrough, which was closed to the media, but he wasn't even at the Falcons' indoor practice facility for the main 2½-hour workout Thursday. Chris Redman ran the first-team offense.

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Even so, Falcons coach Mike Smith isn't ready to say for sure that Ryan won't play Sunday.

"He was with us in the walkthrough," Smith said. "He did more today than he did yesterday. We would make an announcement if we knew for sure he wouldn't play. We're not ready to make that announcement."

Ryan hurt the big toe on his right foot during a Nov. 29 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He sat out last weekend's 34-7 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, along with four other offensive starters, including right guard Harvey Dahl, left tackle Sam Baker and running back Michael Turner.

NFL.com's Steve Wyche reported Wednesday that the availability of Dahl and Baker could be the final factor in the Falcons (6-6) determining if Ryan suits up against the NFC South rival Saints (12-0), according to a team source. The Falcons don't want to put a wounded, immobile Ryan under center with backups at key offensive line positions.

Dahl still hasn't returned to practice because of a hamstring injury that kept him out last weekend, and Baker is trying to come back with a large pad protecting his ailing left elbow. Center Todd McClure is limited by a knee injury, but he expects to play against the Saints.

The Falcons might not have Turner, who also missed practice and is struggling to recover from a lingering high ankle sprain.

Turner was the NFL's second-leading rusher a year ago and again is pacing the Falcons with 864 rushing yards despite missing two games and part of two others since he was initially hurt Nov. 15. He tried to come back two weeks ago and re-injured his right ankle.

"We're missing a Pro Bowl running back and our franchise quarterback," Falcons wide receiver Roddy White said.

Ryan's absence was especially noticeable in the last game. Redman had at least four passes batted down at the line and threw two interceptions, one of which the Eagles returned 83 yards for a touchdown.

"Matt does a lot of things good," White said. "He gets us out of a lot of bad situations. He takes control in the huddle. He's a big part of what we do."

Adding to Atlanta's injury woes, starting cornerback Chris Houston (hamstring) and backup tight end Justin Peele (head injury) are definitely out for Sunday's game.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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