Dent preparing to challenge for linebacker spot

Vivlamore filling in for D. Orlando Ledbetter (aka the Great DLed)

FLOWERY BRANCH – The real battle begins in training camp but Akeem Dent is laying the groundwork for the fight now.

Dent, in his second year out of Douglass High and Georgia, will compete with Lofa Tatupu for the Falcons’ starting middle linebacker position. He does so with the benefit of a full offseason routine, unlike last year season when the NFL lockout severely limited his preparation. When the Falcons did not re-sign Curtis Lofton, their leading tackler the past three seasons, Dent knew he had an opportunity.

“There were some rough times,” Dent said of his rookie season. “Going into these [organized team activities] is better for me because last year I didn’t have an opportunity to go through this phase. It’s going to be a real good competition between me and Lofa.”

Dent will have to learn a new defense as the Falcons brought in Mike Nolan as defensive coordinator this season. Dating back to his days at Georgia, Dent has played for four different defensive coordinators in the past four seasons.

“You always felt like he was behind because he didn’t have that foundation of the May and the June,” linebacker coach Glenn Pires said. “He came along as the season was going and he was catching up. I thought he was getting more comfortable. It’s starting to show now.”

Dent and Tatupu have been spending the offseason watching film and working through the Falcons defense together. Dent said he will continue to pick the brain of Tatupu, a three-time Pro Bowler.

According to coach Mike Smith, the real competition will begin in August when rules allow for pads and hitting. For now, there is more learning to do.

A healthy Edwards ready

Ray Edwards has undergone two knee surgeries since signing with the Falcons as a free agent last season. The latest came following a 3.5 sack season last year.

The defensive end, whom the Falcons gave a five-year, $30 million contract, says he is finally healthy.

“Last year was last year,” Edwards said. “Coming off knee surgery and jumping right into a full season was very tough on my body, period. I started having trouble with my other leg. No excuses but I went out there and put my best foot forward and continued to play. This year, I’m fully healthy.”

Edwards is also encouraged by the new defensive scheme under Nolan. He said it gives him a chance rush the passer without having pass-coverage responsibilities.

“It’s a lot better because it’s more us up front attacking, attacking, attacking,” Edwards said. “That’s the more plus thing about this defense and letting our back end play the way they play. … Let me go. I came from a defense in Minnesota where no matter what we just rushed the front four and let the back end do their job.”

Injury report

Four players continue not to participate in OTA sessions due to injury. Defensive end Cliff Matthews (undisclosed), defensive tackle Corey Peters (foot), offensive lineman Lamar Holmes (toe) and linebacker Stephen Nicholas (toe) were out. Tight end Michael Palmer, Tatupu and Matthews worked out with trainers on the side. Holmes is no longer wearing a walking boot on his left foot.

A number of players were not in attendance during Wednesday’s session. They were John Abraham, Asante Samuel, Christopher Owens, Dunta Robinson, Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez, Peria Jerry, Micanor Regis and Pat Schiller.

Etc.

* Long-snapper Corey Adams was waived Wednesday. The undrafted free agent was the long snapper at Kansas State before signing with the Falcons.

* Thursday will be the final day of OTAs for the Falcons. They will begin a three-day mandatory mini-camp from June 19-21. It will be the first chance for Abraham and Gonzalez to be on the field this offseason. “It’s always a pleasure to see those guys in the building,” Smith said.

* Guard Justin Blalock has partnered with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and will be a spokesman for the organization’s When I Play Music campaign. As part of his duties, Blalock is scheduled to host and guest conduct a concert Thursday.

* Center Todd McClure was an on-field guest of the Braves Wednesday night. He watched batting practice with general manager Frank Wren and spoke to Brian McCann and Eric Hinske.

202 comments Add your comment

Falcon Jim

June 13th, 2012
8:26 pm

First? oh my gosh, I never wanted to do this………………….

Falcon Jim

June 13th, 2012
8:27 pm

Can’t wait for this competition.

tjhook

June 13th, 2012
8:38 pm

I’m excited to see what kind of impact Dent can make, especially since Lofa may get hurt in season. A torn pectoral is not a good injury for a player who has to constantly make collisions.

tjhook

June 13th, 2012
8:42 pm

Got to enjoy the moment, Falcon Jim. Nobody really celebrates getting seconds unless they are at a buffet. Extra: I’ tired of the AJC staff trying to highlight Ray Edwards – he wasn’t impressive and won’t be. Just a good run stopper that’s overpaid.

'"Explosive Defense"'

June 13th, 2012
9:18 pm

I agree, attacking, attacking, attacking is a plus,
let the front four attack.

SirReal

June 13th, 2012
9:32 pm

@tjhook Well I still think he has more upside than Peria Jerry.LOL I honestly think BVG’s scheme was just garbage. I think we’ll see the difference with Edwards this year.

Chub Rock

June 13th, 2012
9:40 pm

So Peria Jerry was not at OTA’s with Corey Peters out injured?

NRBQ

June 13th, 2012
9:44 pm

AKA the Great (in his own mind), semi-literate DLed.

FTFY.

RGrant

June 13th, 2012
10:02 pm

“He said it gives him a chance rush the passer without having pass-coverage responsibilities”- Thank Ceaser’s ghost. I never liked seeing Abe or any other DE dropping into pass coverage.

FAILCANTS are a pathetic 18th ranked In NFL power rankings

June 13th, 2012
10:16 pm

Saints? 7th best…..and, will be number 1 and SB champs at the end of the season…the 2 easy wins against the Falclowns will help….fact….

Sausage King of Chicago

June 13th, 2012
10:17 pm

Wow, actual, interesting reporting on a Falcons blog. Ive got to pinch myselft! Thanks CV!!

JoeS

June 13th, 2012
10:26 pm

May want to check your facts on the players reported “not in attendance”. My sources confirmed that Pat Schiller was in attendance.

PEACH TREE

June 13th, 2012
10:49 pm

Did the Saints find a head coach yet?

Flappin' Falcon

June 13th, 2012
10:58 pm

As far as “camp competition” at the middle LB spot that’s just a bunch of coach speak. If anyone thinks that Dent has a prayer to start over Lofa they’re dreaming. No possible way. And every Falcons coach knows this. Dent has potential but not this early in his career. Lofa is here to start…period. And if Lofa stays healthy for the season the Falcons got a steal.
In TD we trust! Go Falcons!

JoeS

June 13th, 2012
11:06 pm

Note, Schiller wears #40 not 53. That may be causing the confusion

JoeS

June 13th, 2012
11:08 pm

Agreed, provided he stays healthy.

Falcon James

June 13th, 2012
11:13 pm

I was excited with the Falcon signed Edwards. But I feel we got a broke down Voltswagon for the price of a fully loaded Cadilac Escalade. I certainly hope he is healthy and can go back to being the pass rushing terror he used to be. Lord know Abe doesn’t have much gas left in his tank. I think most of the fan, including myself, believe that we are going to have a big season this year. Fact is, we need everyone to step it up and buy into the system. If each player is accountable to themselves and the guy next to him, we will make the run and can go far into the offseason. I want to see some competition on the roster, and for every guy to say “I be the best one for the job and I will prove it”

Falcon Jim

June 13th, 2012
11:18 pm

@10:16…………….grab what’s left of the Katrina sympathy. Soon they will be the Los Angelas Saints.

HA HA HA HA HA HA…………………….

Falcon Jim

June 13th, 2012
11:20 pm

Falcon James………………..right on !

Falcon James

June 13th, 2012
11:20 pm

I want to see some blow out games and not the falcon squeaking by in the last few minute of the game. That Ok for an exciting game, just not a falcon game. Running up the score just build confidence in the team. I like a good ole fashion butt kicking so the other team is demoralized.

SeenThisB4

June 13th, 2012
11:42 pm

Edwards is a riot! “Coming off knee surgery and jumping right into a full season was very tough on my body, period.” LOL! Isn’t he coming off knee surgery again this year? “This year, I’m fully healthy.” Hilarious! Brees is going to break his own passing record again this year against the falcan’ts!

Falcon James

June 13th, 2012
11:51 pm

Good point Seen. Only about Edwards. Your comment about Brees is a bit dillusional. Just my opinion, but the saint fan need to get ready for a tough season. It going to be ugly.

Falcon Jim

June 14th, 2012
12:11 am

Brees will break that record playing for the Bengals.

Falcon Jim

June 14th, 2012
12:15 am

Seen, you don’t write too bad but, man, learn how to segue.

falCANS

June 14th, 2012
12:30 am

P.Jerry a no show even tho Corey Peters is hurt??? PLEASE RELEASE HIM ASAP

Rikus

June 14th, 2012
12:31 am

@Seen – Yeah but last year his knee surgery was in August IIRC…

@Falcon James – We didn’t pay the price of a fully-loaded anything for him… more like certified pre-owned money.

About Edwards, I feel like he’s the forgotten man already around here. Every time I see a discussion of our DEs, he’s not even mentioned. I’m still willing to give him a chance, to see what he can do. It’s a different year, and a different scheme.

falconsrus

June 14th, 2012
2:28 am

Bumpers,thumpers and jumpers we got em were loaded

Big Mike

June 14th, 2012
6:16 am

P Jerry needs to step up or the Falcons need to let go. we need pass rush up the middle as well as from the outside. Championships are won with good defense.

Mikey

June 14th, 2012
7:09 am

This will be a good competition. Dent is a sound player and I will be happy to see him progress. He has his work cut out for him though… if he is ready to play, Lofa is a BEAST. As much as I like Lofton, I am expecting these guys to be an upgrade at MLB. Lofton got a lot of tackles but that is what happens when people run free up the middle and a ton of short passes are completed right in front of the MLB. Its really nice to see solid play plus depth at nearly every position.

SeenThisB4

June 14th, 2012
7:22 am

FORE!!!

A round of golf today, anyone?

Dent and Tatupu, tsk, tsk, tsk….not an improvement….they’re soft and weak, ….just like Ryan’s throwing arm.

Six weeks till training camp.

AlanFalcon

June 14th, 2012
7:55 am

P. Jerry, a lost pick just like Jamaal Anderson, but we hang onto him instead of giving someone a chance thats not a lazy lard arse (A$$), you know what I mean.

AlanFalcon

June 14th, 2012
8:01 am

Urgent—Saints have lost thier sense of direction, where is their coach and MLB leader, what are they going to do now that the pots history and they have no guidance as to how to hurt their brothers on the othe side of the line. (Will someone in NO come up with a bounty program so that they will know how to play).

SeenThisB4

June 14th, 2012
8:08 am

@AlanFalcan’t: The Saints are going to do what they do best: They’re going to be defiant, and they’re going to win. GEAUX SAINTS!!!

Paddy

June 14th, 2012
8:14 am

Big Mike…….Good defense does not win Championships in the NFL. Good defense gets you to the playoffs. Great offense wins Championships. Times have changed!

robertussen

June 14th, 2012
8:51 am

hey seen man, you spelled go wrong again. and the falcons will win the division this year. oh and i hope you guys sign brees soon. as much as i can’t stand the saints, the fans have had to endure way to much crap this off season.

[...] Atlanta Falcons This entry was posted in Atlanta Falcons and tagged challenge, Dent, linebacker, preparing, spot. Bookmark the permalink. ← Joe Flacco leaves practice with baby on the way [...]

Jonk Birdwatcher

June 14th, 2012
9:29 am

Finally we got better defense than we have since Van Gorder Time for sure ..Dimitroff has put together right personnel players.

DR. FALCON

June 14th, 2012
9:58 am

AKEEM DENT IS THE PRIDE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS HIGH ASTROS, IN N.W. ATLANTA! AS AN ALUM, (CLASS OF ‘80), I’M REALLY PULLING FOR DENT TO START! GO ASTROS! BLACK AND GOLD, BABY! AT THE TIME, MY OLD H.S. WAS LOCATED ON HIGHTOWER RD., NOW DEFUNCT.

D man

June 14th, 2012
9:58 am

Glad to hear Dent is progressing. He looked good last season and needs to step it up and take that spot that Lofton had.

Juuuuuulliiiooooooo is getting better this off season. Look for big plays this fall.

DR. FALCON

June 14th, 2012
10:02 am

THE NFL NETWORK, DID ME A DISSERVICE, BY REPLAYING THE 1981 DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF LOSS TO THE DALLAS COWBOYS, AT FULTON COUNTY STADIUM! LEEMAN BENNET BLEW THAT GAME! ONE DAY CLOSER TO NOV. 4TH SHOWDOWN ON SUNDAY NITE, AGAINST THE COWGIRLS! PAYBACK IS A BITCH! TONY ROMO, IS WEAK! I WILL TAKE MATT RYAN ALL DAY BEFORE ROMO, IN THE TOP 100!

tyger

June 14th, 2012
10:14 am

Dent has excellent opportunity…

Tatupu is S-L-O-W…

WS

June 14th, 2012
10:24 am

Falcan’t, For NFL power rating, in 2008 they had falcons ranked 32nd. I think they missed, so much for them.
For as you counting your ain’ts win over falcons, game has to be played on field. With all the problems the( ain’ts) have, and no head coach or middle linebacker. Yes you do have MLB, a exfalcons, falcons let walk. He is no Vilma, Ryan will have a field day passing on ur ain’ts.

CaliDirtyBird

June 14th, 2012
10:28 am

Several Saints coaches and players will “be defiant” like a little piggy crying wah-wah-wah all the home for multiple games and or the season.
Can’t wait to see one of there WR pull up his jersey with “Free Peyton” t-shirt underneath after a meaningless late touchdown as they are getting blown out on National TV!!!

Ed

June 14th, 2012
10:37 am

Mike Nolans defense is already more aggressive than Brian Van Gorders I think Dent will eventually win that battle with Tatupu. Having Asante Samuel in the secondary will allow the defensive line and linebackers to be much more aggressive. I think there is going to be some fun competition to keep an eye on once training camp starts.

No more eggcuses 4 Perrier Jerry

June 14th, 2012
10:53 am

All these atricles about the Flaocns and not 1 is about Perrier Jerry and what a huge bust he is. Why is ever 1 at the AJC ascared 2 tell the truth? Its time U all do UR job and demand some asners from the Flacons regarding Perrier Jerry

Paddy

June 14th, 2012
11:14 am

I guess it is finally time for me to join the crowd about P. Jerry. Slow footed and oft injured is no way to extend a career. Believe he will be released sorta early so he can find another team to play for this season.

JSS

June 14th, 2012
11:23 am

I usually stay out of this Falcons-Saints silliness but part of the Saints agreement keeps them in New Orleans for at least two decades… L.A. better start looking for an expansion partner once they “finally” get a stadium “built!” They are going to add two teams make the schedule work… Saint Louis is the obvious choice now that CVB rejected the choice to replace the Jones Dome… They’ll have to announce a new stadium deal soon

Falcon Jim

June 14th, 2012
12:20 pm

“eggcuses” (a.k.a. Joe Tess), why so infatuated with Jerry?

(P.S. Your schtick is hilarious. Amazing to keep it up for so many years……….keep it coming.)

Falcon Jim

June 14th, 2012
12:23 pm

“……………they need a deep throat on their rooster to go to the super-bowel”…………..still the all-time
funniest number one post ever on the AJC.

Rick

June 14th, 2012
12:34 pm

I like this D-Coordinator we have. He is going to make a HUGE difference!