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New Orleans Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore (23) breaks up a pass intended for Washington Redskins wide receiver Josh Doctson (18) during the first half Sunday, Nov. 19, 2017, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Lattimore was injured on the play and did not return.

Advocate staff photo by SCOTT THRELKELD

Marshon Lattimore was close to returning this week against the Carolina Panthers.

Now the hope is the Saints cornerback will be ready to go on Thursday night against the Atlanta Falcons.

“Hopefully he’ll be ready to go,” defensive coordinator Dennis Allen said. “That’s something that we’ll obviously have to monitor over the next couple of days. I know his mindset has been the last couple of weeks to get himself ready to play and hopefully he’ll be at full strength when we go out there Thursday.”

Lattimore suffered a sprained ankle during the first quarter of a Nov. 19 game against the Washington Redskins. He missed the next week against the Los Angeles Rams and the next game against the Carolina Panthers.

The rookie was listed as questionable for Sunday, and tested his ankle prior to the game, but was deemed unready to play. Getting him back for Thursday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons, which could put him up against Julio Jones, whom Allen called a ‘huge challenge,’ would be beneficial to the defense.

“He possesses everything that you’re looking for in a prototypical No. 1 receiver,” Allen said of Jones. “I think even on top of that, when you add the weapons that are around him, I think Matt Ryan’s, obviously, one of the top five quarterbacks in this league. He’s an outstanding player, very intelligent. Understands what the defense is doing and how to take advantage of it. And then there’s other weapons around because it makes it even more difficult because if you pay too much attention to Julio, there’s other weapons they have.”

With Lattimore out against the Panthers, the Saints started Ken Crawley and P.J. Williams at cornerback. If he is unable to play, it’s likely New Orleans would take the same approach.

Follow Nick Underhill on Twitter, @nick_underhill.​