Beasley concedes Falcons’ playoff hopes ‘slim’
FLOWERY BRANCH — After starting the season poorly, the Falcons know that their playoff clock is ticking.
“With the sense of our record being 1-4 right now, playoffs hopes are slim,” defensive end Vic Beasley said. “But ... we are still in control of our own destiny. We have to go out there and perform.”
The Falcons face the Buccaneers (2-2) at 1 p.m. Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
The Falcons are in a big hole. Since 1978, only nine teams have started the season 1-4 and made the playoffs. No team has started 1-4 and made the Super Bowl.
The Falcons are bracing for the return to the starting lineup of Tampa Bay quar- terback Jameis Winston. The Bucs are averaging 358 yards passing per game.
“We know that they can air it out,” Beasley said. “We know what type of player Jameis is and what he can do. We definitely have to get some pressure on him and try to distract him and get him off the spot. Try to get him to throw us a couple of picks hopefully.”
The Falcons have only eight sacks this season. Beasley, who has one sack, knows the Falcons need to rush better against Winston.
“Our rush can definitely disrupt the game, even in our bigger man package, our base personnel,” Beasley said. “If we can get on and off blocks and recognize the play action, it will be benefi- cial for us.”
The Falcons are trying to play without four starters on defense and one on offense. Beasley senses things are coming together. But there is a sense of urgency.
The units need to start play- ing well, right now. Not down the road.
“We’ve seen glimpses of it,” Beasley said. “(We’ve had) good performances from certain individuals who are new to defense and new to the offense. We are looking forward to bigger and bet- ter things. With this being a divisional game, it’s a big matchup for us and a very important game.”
Freeman, Jarrett out again: Running back Devonta Freeman, defensive tackle Grady Jarrett and defensive end Derrick Shelby were declared out of Sunday’s game by Falcons coach Dan Quinn on Friday.
Freeman also has a groin injury to go with his foot injury. Cornerback Justin Bethel (knee) fully participated in practice.
Jarrett has an ankle sprain, while Shelby also has a groin injury.
Freeman played in the opener, but missed the next three games with a bruised knee.
Jarrett missed the Pitts- burgh game after suffering an ankle sprain in the third quarter against the Bengals on Sept. 30.
With Jarrett and Shelby out, Steelers running back James Conner rushed 21 times for 110 yards and two touchdowns in the 41-17 loss on Sunday.
Defensive tackle Michael Bennett IV, who played 18 snaps against the Steelers, could see an increased role against the Bucs. Also, Quinn said that rookie Deadrin Senat was coming off his best game.
Is that the sky? The Falcons plan to open the retractable roof of Mercedes-Benz Stadium for Sunday afternoon’s game. That is subject to change based on weather conditions, the team noted in announcing its plan Friday.
The roof has been closed for the Falcons’ first three regular-season home games this year and for all but one of their regular-season home games since the stadium debuted last year. It was open for the Sept. 17, 2017, game against Green Bay.