FLOWERY BRANCH — No worries for John Abraham, even though the Falcons' three-time Pro Bowl defensive end didn't return after sustaining a mild concussion in last week's win over Carolina.
Tied for third in the NFL with 12 sacks, Abraham promises to be in the lineup on Sunday when Atlanta (7-4) visits San Diego (4-7). He participated in practice Friday for the third straight day.
"I'm good," Abraham said. "I'll be ready to go."
Abraham was already battling injuries to his neck and shoulder when he rushed from the left side against a Panthers double-team and got knocked backward and onto the Georgia Dome turf. He walked off the field without help early in the fourth quarter, but team trainers quickly diagnosed a mild concussion.
Though Abraham lobbied to return, defensive line coach Ray Hamilton wasn't going to risk that his best pass rusher would hurt himself even worse, particularly after Harry Douglas ran back a punt for a 61-yard touchdown and a 38-21 lead.
"I could have, but Harry pretty much canceled that with the punt return for a touchdown," Abraham said. "Ray wanted me in there, but it was the smart thing to do. I had a little head injury, and I didn't want to go in there and get knocked out again."
Abraham's 79.5 sacks since the start of his rookie season with the New York Jets in 2000 rank second among active players. Against the Chargers, Atlanta will face an offense that's allowed just 16 sacks of quarterback Phillip Rivers this year.
Another dotted line
The Falcons have the defensive line nucleus of Abraham, Jamaal Anderson and Jonathan Babineaux under contract through at least the next three years, but the team has yet to decide if it will re-sign Chauncey Davis to an extension.
Babineaux, a three-technique defensive tackle, received a new five-year deal worth an estimated $25 million this week, but his position is arguably more difficult than end or nose tackle because of the demands on a player's quickness and durability.
Davis is a career reserve with 119 tackles (95 solo) and six sacks in 59 games. He started five games as a rookie in 2005 and 13 as Abraham tried to fight through injuries in '06, but none since.
Hamilton, a former standout lineman for New England and a longtime NFL assistant in his first year with Atlanta, has helped Davis define his role behind Abraham and Anderson. Against Carolina, Davis took his most snaps of the season, finishing with his first two-sack game.
The second sack came with 6:33 remaining as Davis brought down Jake Delhomme at the Carolina 16 and inspired the crowd to roar even louder to force two straight false start penalties that left the Panthers facing third-and-28. On fourth down, Douglas returned Jason Baker's punt from the end zone for a 17-point lead.
"The first time we played against Jake Delhomme, we didn't get any sacks," Davis said. "We knew we needed to stay in his face and get a lot of pressure."
Atlanta is just 2-4 following a loss, 4-0 following a win. ... Much has been made of the Falcons' success when scoring first this year, but they are 0-4 after beginning the fourth quarter with a deficit and a staggering 1-41 since the start of 2003. ...
After the offense ranked 28th in scoring last year, Atlanta is averaging 25.1 points to rank ninth. ... Michael Turner leads the NFL with 22.8 rushing attempts per game. ... Tennessee's LenDale White scored twice in the Titans' blowout win Thursday at Detroit to tie Turner for the league lead in touchdowns (13).