Flowery Branch — Falcons middle linebacker Curtis Lofton was tied for sixth in the league in tackles with 133 last season, according to NFL.com stats.
Only three middle linebackers – Washington’s London Fletcher (142), Tampa Bay’s Barrett Ruud (142) and Carolina’s Jon Beason (141) — had more tackles.
He played a major role in the Falcons finishing 10th against the run last season.
While he got snubbed by Pro Bowl voters, Lofton’s hometown of Kingfisher, Oklahoma did not. They retired his jersey this offseason.
After a recent minicamp practice, Lofton told about the retirement ceremony and about how the Falcons plan to have a top 10 overall defense in 2010.
Here’s the Q&A:
Q: What was it like to have your jersey retired by your high school?
A: It was really an honor to have the town of Kingfisher retire my jersey. It was an amazing feeling with all of the hard work I put in. It just goes to show you that my town cares.
Q: What was the ceremony like?
A: It was at one of the basketball games. The gym was filled. I arrived about 45 minutes early and signed a couple of autographs. All of my family was there. They had my high school, my college and Falcons’ jerseys all together. It was awesome. It’s tough to put into words how I felt that night.
Q: What’s been your mindset on improving this offseason?
A: I watched a lot of film of myself this offseason. There were a couple of things that stuck out to me. I’ve just been working this offseason to get better in those areas of my game.
Q: What was working for you all last season with stopping the run?
A: I would say that the No. 1 thing was attitude. Nobody was going to come in and run the ball against us no matter where we were at. If we didn’t do anything, we were going to stop the run. Now, we have to carry that into not letting them catch the ball on third down. We have to get off the field and make some plays. I think we’re going to be a top 10 defense.
Q: What are the keys to make sure you all get there?
A: I would say, of course, No. 1 is stopping the run. No. 2 is affecting the quarterback. No. 3 is getting takeaways and BDs, ball disruptions.
Q: You started off getting a lot of takeaways, how do you get more consistent in that area?
A: Just working on it in practice. If you don’t do it in practice, you’re not going to do it in the game. We just have to keep doing it, staying focused and put more emphasis on it.
Q: How has first round pick Sean Weatherspoon been looking for you all?
A: Spoon has been looking good. He’s a smart guy. As a rookie coming in I really feel like he’s starting to get a grasp on things. He has a lot of energy to him and that’s what you like to see. That’s great for a rookie. He’s going to be a good player.