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Falcons' Chandler Will Play


The Atlanta Falcons finally won a game last Sunday after losing their first four. On Thursday, they received more good news when quarterback Chris Chandler was deemed ready to play.

"I would say he's been upgraded from questionable to probable," coach Dan Reeves said following practice. "It looks pretty good. He's had two good days of practice. I think he'll be able to go."

Chandler injured his right hamstring in the season opener, missed the next game, tried to come back too soon and played only the opening quarter in a 34-7 loss to the St. Louis Rams in the third game before sitting out the last two weeks.

Chandler will likely start Sunday against the Rams (4-0), the only unbeaten team in the NFL.

In Chandler's appearance Sept. 26 against St. Louis, he completed 5 of 9 passes for only 28 yards and one interception before reaggravating his hamstring.

Though Reeves stopped short of saying Chandler will start, the 12-year veteran has been listed No. 1 on the depth chart all season. Backup Tony Graziani started three of the last four games.

Chandler was unavailable for comment after practice.

Atlanta is 17-4 when Chandler, a Pro Bowler the last two years, has started and finished a game including 10-1 last season when the Falcons went to the Super Bowl.

With Chandler out and running back Jamal Anderson sidelined for the season with a knee injury, the Falcons offense has stalled. Atlanta is averaging 12.2 points per game, third worst in the league.

"It's frustrating, because we know we're a better football team than the numbers show," said center Robbie Tobeck. "It's not an excuse for us to say we've missed Chris and Jamal it's a fact. Those are the kinds of players you can't replace."

"But that doesn't mean we can't be a good football team. There are still enough players left from a team that went to the Super Bowl to get out of the mess we put ourselves in."

In Chandler's absence, Graziani has thrown for only 509 yards and two touchdowns. The running game hasn't done much either. Byron Hanspard is averaging only 3.0 yards per carry, Ken Oxendine 2.7 yards and neither has scored a TD.

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