ATLANTA - Maybe he came back too soon.
It's been less than 10 months since Ronald Darby tore his ACL against the Cowboys last November, and on Sunday night he looked more like a guy who was still rehabbing than a guy who was healthy.
And the Falcons didn't hesitate to take advantage.
Matt Ryan went right after Darby, and it wasn't pretty. Darby spent much of Sunday night chasing after Calvin Ridley, who finished with five catches for 106 yards and a 34-yard touchdown that was on Darby. Julio Jones got him a couple times, too.
Darby could always run. He won a bronze medal in the 200-meter dash at the 2011 World Junior Track Championships in Villeneuve d'Ascq, France. That speed gave him the ability to make up for a lot of plays. When he was healthy.
He doesn't have that right now. And Ronald Darby without his wheels doesn't do the Eagles any good.
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The Falcons knew from watching film that Darby isn't itself, and they made the Eagles pay.
"There is no excuses, I just made a few mistakes," Darby said after the Eagles' 24-20 loss. "Come back better next week (and) make some plays. At the end of the day this game is in the past, I made some plays that hurt us but I will come back stronger."
It's kind of shocking to see that despite Darby's struggles, he played dramatically more snaps in the Eagles' 24-20 loss to the Falcons Sunday night than Sidney Jones (39) or Rasul Douglas (32).
But the Eagles are paying Darby $6 ½ million, Jones $1.02 million and Douglas $670,000.
So Darby plays and the two promising young corners rotate.
Darby did have one of the Eagles' three interceptions off Matt Ryan and a 13-yard return to set up Carson Wentz's third-quarter TD pass to Nelson Agholor.
So there's that.
But overall, he didn't look right.
"I'm good," he said. "There are no excuses. If I didn't think I was good enough I wouldn't be out there. Just going to have to keep working, keep getting it right and come back stronger next week."
I asked Darby if a healthy Ronald Darby makes some of the plays he didn't make Sunday night.
"I understand," he said. "It's early. That's in the past move on to next week."
But the best option next week might be Jones and Douglas, two much less experienced but much healthier alternatives.
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