UPDATE: Matt Bryant was placed on season-ending injury reserve. Nose tackle Joey Mbu promoted from practice squad to the 53-man roster. Also, linebacker Philip Wheeler was fined for his face-mask penalty against Tampa Bay.
FLOWERY BRANCH — Here are the five things we learned Friday about the Falcons (6-6), who play at Carolina (12-0) in a NFC South game at 1 p.m. Sunday at Bank of America Stadium. The Falcons have dropped five straight and six of seven, but can atone and keep their faint playoffs hopes alive with a upset of the Panthers, who are 7 1/2 point favorites.1. RAHEEM MORRIS STARS AS CAM NEWTON: The Falcons coaches ran a special scout-team period for the defensive front during the special teams session. Assistant head coach/defensive passing game coordinator Raheem Morris played Cam Newton and wide receiver coach Terry Robiskie was running back Jonathan Stewart. The Falcons have placed a heavy emphasis on stopping the run this week.
2. JARRETT IS UP: Falcons rookie defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, who been playing solid in a rotational role since Week 8, will get more playing time with Paul Soliai (calf) declared out of the game by coach Dan Quinn. Jarrett has a plus-8.9 rating this season and currently rates 17th among all defensive tackles, according to profootballfocus.com.
3. BRYANT TO MISS THIRD GAME: Also, kicker Matt Bryant (quadriceps) will miss his third game and Shayne Graham, who’s made five-of-five, will handle the field goal kicking.
4. INJURY REPORT: Wide receiver Julio Jones (knee), guard Chris Chester (shoulder, knee) tight end Tony Moeaki (hamstring), Devin Hester (toe) and tight end Jacob Tamme (shoulder) were also on the injury report, but are expected to play.
5. NEWTON THINKS FALCONS ARE GREAT: Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has studied the Falcons. He seen that they are losing close games and called them a “great” team.
GAME COVERAGE — BUCCANEERS 23, FALCONS 19