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Abraham returns to Falcons

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FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga — John Abraham, who hasn’t played since he won NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors in his first game with Atlanta, returned to practice Wednesday.
    Abraham suffered a groin injury in the Week 1 win over Carolina in which he had six tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles and one pass batted away.
    The Falcons, off this weekend, had their last practice of the week Wednesday, and Abraham decided the non-contact session was the perfect opportunity to test the groin.
    Abraham said he hoped to play in the Oct. 15 game against the New York Giants.
    ‘‘From today, I think so,’’ Abraham said. ‘‘I think I practiced well. I’m still a little stiff. I’m still a little behind but I think I’ll be OK if I just stay here and work out and get back into the old John Abraham shape.’’
    Abraham said he wanted to ease back into practice Wednesday.
    ‘‘I didn’t want to come back next week and just try to jump back into it,’’ he said. ‘‘I’d rather just take this day and see where I was and see how far along I am and how far I have to go.’’
    A groin injury limited Abraham to only seven games with the New York Jets in 2003, and he said he learned from that injury that he couldn’t rush his recovery this time.
    ‘‘It just showed me what I need to do and not try to rush back,’’ he said. ‘‘I knew how to treat it and how to push myself and exactly what to do.
    ‘‘I’d rather it happen now than happen when we’re 10-2 and we’re trying to get to a good game and have it happen and miss three weeks. I’d rather it happen now when I had time to rest. We’ve got this bye week, so it helped me to not miss another game.’’
    Falcons coach Jim Mora says he has trusted Abraham’s judgment while the three-time Pro Bowl defensive end missed the last three games.
    ‘‘As much as I want him on the field, he wants it more, but I don’t want to put him out there unless he is ready to roll,’’ Mora said Monday. ‘‘All indications are he will be ready to roll.’’
    Abraham still has to survive his return to contact drills next week.
    ‘‘There is a lot of time between now and (Oct. 15),’’ Mora said. ‘‘I am going to listen to the athlete. I have a lot of respect for these guys. I know him and these guys well enough that if they tell me they can’t go, they can’t go and if they tell me they are ready, they are ready.’’
    Abraham suffered the injury with about two minutes left in the Carolina game. There was concern the Falcons’ defense would suffer in his absence, but instead the unit has allowed only one touchdown in a 3-1 start.
    ‘‘They performed well,’’ Abraham said. ‘‘Like I told you when I first came here, I wasn’t coming here to try to be the star, I was coming here to try to fit in. I told you we already had everything we needed. It was just me coming and trying to fit in.’’
    Abraham came to the Falcons in a three-team deal with Denver and the Jets after he agreed to a six-year, $45 million deal with Atlanta that included $18 million in guaranteed money. The Falcons sent their 2006 first-round pick, No. 15 overall, to Denver.
    Abraham said he is eager to be a part of the Falcons’ strong start again.
    ‘‘If you’re a player, you want to be out there, especially when they’re playing well,’’ he said. ‘‘You want to be part of that. I was a part of it but it was more in like the cheering section. I don’t like being a cheerleader. They didn’t pay me to be on the sideline cheering. They paid me to do my job.’’
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