5 things to know about the Falcons on Thursday

The AJC’s D. Orlando Ledbetter and Noah Coslov chat about Julio Jones’ situation for week 17, Matt Ryan’s MVP candidacy, and why it’s beneficial for the Falcons to host the Saints on Sunday.

010923 ATLANTA:-- Falcons quarterback Michael Vick runs for yardage during 1st half action against the Panthers in the Georgia Dome on Sunday, Sept. 23, 2001. (CURTIS COMPTON/staff)

010923 ATLANTA:– Falcons quarterback Michael Vick runs for yardage during 1st half action against the Panthers in the Georgia Dome on Sunday, Sept. 23, 2001. (CURTIS COMPTON/staff)

FLOWERY BRANCH — The Atlanta Falcons (10-5) are set to host the New Orleans Saints (7-8) at 4:25 p.m. on Sunday in the last regular-season game in the history of the Georgia Dome.

Here are five things to know about the Falcons, the 2016 NFC South Champions, on Thursday:

1. Vick to return for Georgia Dome finale?: Former Falcons wide receiver Brian Finneran, a broadcaster on 680 the Fan, has been talking on-air about the invited guest list of former players for the regular-season finale for the Georgia Dome. The Falcons (10-5) are set to play the Saints (7-8) at 4:25 p.m. Sunday, and the team has invited several players to take part in a ceremony. The team acknowledged that there will be a ceremony, but does not plan to release a list of the invited players, which very likely includes former quarterback Michael Vick, who played for the Falcons from 2001-06. Vick, who was selected No. 1 overall in the 2001 draft, electrified the fan base, energized the team and sold out the Georgia Dome.

2. Vick wants to retire as a Falcon. Vick would like to retire as an Atlanta Falcon. Vick, who didn’t play during the 2016 season despite the league-wide lack of depth at quarterback, would have to be re-signed to ceremonial one-day contract. He expressed his desire to radio host Marc James on the Jim Rome show on CBS Sports Radio on Dec. 12. He also revealed that he stays in touch with Falcons owner Arthur Blank.

3. Gabriel has foot injury. Falcons wide receiver Taylor Gabriel (foot) did not practice on Wednesday. Also, tight end Austin Hooper (knee) and defensive end Dwight Freeney (rest) did not practice.  Lineabacker De’Vondre Campbell (concussion) returned to practice, but was limited. Cornerback Robert Alford (toe), wide receiver Julio Jones (toe), safety Keanu Neal (ankle) and left guard Andy Levitre (hip) were limited. Tight end Josh Perkins (neck) fully participated.

4. Ryan hopes to play well into his 30s like Brees.  Saints quarterback Drew Brees has reached an intersection of all-time greatness and continued relevance that is rare for a 37-year old quarterback. Brees is on the back end of a career that may lead to his eventual enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Yet on Sunday at the Georgia Dome the Falcons still will be most concerned with slowing Brees, same as always during his 11 years with the Saints. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, 31, also is playing at a high level and Brees is proof that it’s possible to do so for several more years.

5. Therezie blending in with Saints. Former Falcons defensive back Robenson Therezie is blending in with the Saints after being claimed off waivers. The Falcons were hoping that Therezie would make a big jump in his second season with the franchise.

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