Dent, Peterson to pick up the slack on D-Block for Weatherspoon

Carolina Panthers cornerback Captain Munnerlyn (41) pulls away from the tackle of Atlanta Falcons middle linebacker Akeem Dent (52) during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Carolina Panthers cornerback Captain Munnerlyn (41) pulls away from the tackle of Atlanta Falcons middle linebacker Akeem Dent (52) during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

FLOWERY BRANCH — The undefeated Falcons will play without linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, their second-leading tackler, when they face the Dallas Cowboys at 8:20 p.m. Sunday at the Georgia Dome.

Weatherspoon was injured on a tackle attempt against Eagles running back LeSean McCoy with 9:03 left in the fourth quarter of the Falcons’ 30-17 victory Sunday. He had played all 435 defensive snaps this season before the injury. He missed the final 16 defensive snaps of the Philadelphia game.

“I want to be as transparent as I can be,” coach Mike Smith said. “We’ve ruled out two players for the game this week. Sean Weatherspoon will not play this week. Nor will (reserve wide receiver) Kevin Cone. Those are the two guys that we made a determination on. They are not going to be available for this week’s game.”

With Sean Weatherspoon out, second-year linebacker Akeem Dent will start in the nickel package, which the Falcons used on a majority of their defensive snaps under defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. When they used their 4-3 base defense, Mike Peterson will play in Weatherspoon’s outside linebacker spot.

Dent is the Falcons’ middle linebacker in the base defense. He played some outside linebacker in the nickel against Oakland on Oct. 14 when Stephen Nicholas was slowed by an ankle injury.

“It’s no different for me,” said Dent, who’s played 41 percent (185 of 451) of the defensive snaps this season. “I always watch Sean when he’s in there. I’m getting mental reps if I’m not in the game or in practice.”

Weatherspoon walked through the locker room carrying a sandwich, but didn’t speak to the media. On Tuesday, he did a local radio interview and sounded hopeful about getting the game plan and being ready for Dallas.

It will be tough for Dent and Peterson to replace Weatherspoon’s production. He has 60 tackles, which trails only safety William Moore’s 63, according to the coaches’ film review stats. He also has three sacks, which trails only John Abraham’s seven.

Weatherspoon ability to play in space and cover running backs will be hard for Dent to replicate. Also, strongside linebacker Stephen Nicholas likely will cover tight end Jason Witten when the Falcons go to man-to-man coverage.

Weatherspoon was turning in a strong campaign. He had double-digit tackles in four games, including 11 against Washington. He also put a big hit on Washington rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III that knocked him out of the game. He also forced a fumbled against San Diego on Sept. 23.

“Akeem has had some snaps when we made the move in the Oakland game,” Smith said. “He actually played the backer position, so he’s got some snaps underneath his belt. It’s an opportunity for him to step up and play. We anticipate that he’ll do a nice job.”

Dent will have to play in space and cover a lot of ground.

“Akeem gets practice snaps when we are working on our (nickel) package during practice,” Smith said. “He gets an opportunity to work there. The good thing is that he’s going to be playing the same role when he filled in for Stephen. He’s been trained for that spot.”

Dent had nine tackles when he filled in against Oakland. He has 23 tackles on the season.

Dent knows that the linebackers will face a major challenge against Dallas tight end Jason Witten, who caught 18 passes for 167 yards Sunday against the New York Giants.

“It just depends on what we are doing within our scheme,” Dent said. “He’s a great tight end. He’s one of the good veteran tight ends in this league. He’s going to try to cause some problems.”

Guard Garrett Reynolds (back) also sat out practice Thursday. Peter Konz continued to play in his spot.

Wide receivers Harry Douglas (knee/ankle) and Roddy White (back) fully participated in practice after being limited Wednesday.

Defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux (knee), kicker Matt Bryant (back) and wide receivers Drew Davis (hamstring) were limited Thursday.

For Dallas, wide receiver Dez Bryant (hip) and running back DeMarco Murray (foot) did not practice.

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36 comments Add your comment

I usually just read but...

November 2nd, 2012
8:13 am

I usually just read but...

November 2nd, 2012
8:17 am

STB4 must be busy putting up his new Fathead of Drew Brees,

jay

November 2nd, 2012
8:23 am

jay

November 2nd, 2012
8:24 am

I called this earlier this week. Thhey are just going to save him for NO and Sproles. Getting him as close to 100% as possible.

SirReal

November 2nd, 2012
8:34 am

Yep Jay. Thats what it sounds like. Plus, I’d like to see how we handle this. This may sound crazy to some but I dont mind a loss because of where we are and how the remaining schedule looks. Plus 1 L can keep everyone from talking about us….we can go under the radar even further….HOWEVER…i think we have the offensive firepower to win a shoot out with DAL….honestly they arent very good. A lot of good pieces but not good overall. Hopefully Birds win at home. Nolan isnt Van Gorder so I think the D will be ok.

jay

November 2nd, 2012
8:37 am

We should still win this game. They shouldn’t have much of a running game. The guys who run well on us have dynamic talent. Felix Jones doesn’t fit in that category, plus he’s injured. They will have to put it all on Romo and I look for Nolan to use schemes to confuse Bryant while doubling Witten and leaving 22 on Austin. They will put up some points, but we’ll get 2-3 turnovers. I say Falcons 24 Cowgurls 13.

Jasmin

November 2nd, 2012
8:40 am

Sir Real. I agree with u 100%. I wouldn’t be upset with a loss but again, I’m pretty sure they’ll get the W. We definitely need Spoon for NO. I think they made a good decision. RISE UP!

Answer This

November 2nd, 2012
8:41 am

Please a moment of silence for the fallen Bird of Prey

Answer This

November 2nd, 2012
8:42 am

NOW
Esquire STRIKE UP THE BAND!

Jimmy Crack

November 2nd, 2012
9:05 am

I am sure Robert James will get some reps as well. Whatever happens, the coverage of Witten won’t be as bad as it was by the Giants. Any receiver on an opposing team catching 18 passes in one game should be an embarrassment for any NFL Defensive Coordinator.

Roger

November 2nd, 2012
9:30 am

STB4-Seen this before says he is banned from AJC blogs on an ESPN blog…..Good!!!!!

SimpleDawg

November 2nd, 2012
9:35 am

Time for Dent to step up and play. He was really good at Georgia, but now he’s in the deep end of the pool.

Sic ‘em.

Rise Up!

November 2nd, 2012
9:47 am

Is that brees Fathead the one with the skirt, or without the skirt?

falCANS

November 2nd, 2012
10:06 am

As I said previous blog…. Blueprint too beating dallas is a potent offense that can match touchdowns and ani oppurtunistic defense…..check and check….close game……31-28 Falcons!!

Nativebird

November 2nd, 2012
10:43 am

Dent got abused by Carolina and by Oakland. Biggest gap I’ve ever seen between a player’s on-paper assessment of what he SHOULD be able to do (size, strength, speed, etc), and actual performance. Talking about whiffing on tackles, bad angles, unable to lose blocks and flat out getting RuN OVER by Rb’s. the guy must be a. Dumb as a stump, or b. just plain lazy and doesn’t work. Either way he is NOT the answer at the Mike or the Will. Everybody knew this guy was a risk in the round Dimitroff picked him, but it appears no one knew he’d be a flat out BUST and he is fast becoming that. We are in TROUBLE Sunday without Spoon.

North FLA Falcon

November 2nd, 2012
11:51 am

Peterson is a hitter but a little slow. Dent needs to step up. James should get some reps too. This will be tough but I think we can pull it out in the 4th quarter.

I usually just read but...

November 2nd, 2012
12:59 pm

@ Rise Up
I understand it with skirt. Brees claimed to be Scottish and said it is a Kilt but I don’t believe it. Any how, James showed a lot of hussle in the preseason. Petterson is pretty good fresh but he’s as old as I am. He’ll get tired than a holiness preacher in a cat house after a few downs. Dent needs to pick it up. His chance to shine. Or not. I’m hoping for the best. Worse case, #2 will help us match score for score and Smitty will play the clock.

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PHL Falcons Fan

November 2nd, 2012
1:27 pm

Was sooo sweet wearing my #11 jersey to church and Champps last Sunday after all of those PHL wins in the past! Got the jersey in the back of my Sonata to give a friendly hello to all of my Yankee friends up here. lol

And the obvious question, when will Spoon be back?

Captain Dolohov

November 2nd, 2012
1:43 pm

Falcons ascendant. Where’s that Esquire fellow?

http://www.predictwise.com/node/682

Decatur Falcons

November 2nd, 2012
1:50 pm

The Truth is which Tony Romo is going to show up on Prime Time and can Coach Mike Smith out coach the Dallas coach if it come down to a field goal at the end of the game. Dallas has a good defense, but they got some LB hurt so do Atlanta on defense. Dent for the Atlanta Falcons has to have a good week of practice, because they are going to come at him in the nickel package. Dent has to fight off his blocks and intercept Tony Romo, and believe me Tony Romo will throw one. Matt Ryan has to start out fast with 2 touchdown so Tony Romo can do too much in the game. When Tony Romo tries to hard that equals takeaways for the defense which equals points for Atlanta. This is what I will be looking for at 8:30p.m. on the Sunday. GO FALCONS!!!!!

Brew Dees

November 2nd, 2012
2:10 pm

STB4 is a good man. He mows my yard for free.

Blue Knees

November 2nd, 2012
2:27 pm

That is not a dress. It”s a dang KILT!! I’m Scottish by gosh!

I usually just read but...

November 2nd, 2012
2:28 pm

Greg

November 2nd, 2012
2:53 pm

Nicholas is strong, and can be a big hitter, but he doesn’t seem to be the right guy at all to cover Witten. He’s got height, but he’s not flexible or quick enough. I fear Witten will have another huge day if this is our actual plan. I’m guessing the coaches actually have something else in mind (as someone else suggested, maybe Robert James will play a part here). But my hunch is that we’ll need to put DeCoud on Witten.

TheAintsDefenseSuk

November 2nd, 2012
4:15 pm

Roger

November 2nd, 2012
9:30 am

STB4-Seen this before says he is banned from AJC blogs on an ESPN blog…..Good!!!!!

————————————————

STB4 is not banned. That punk is just hiding because the AINTS ARE 2-5!!!!…..LOL

Drew Is on His Knees

November 2nd, 2012
4:20 pm

jerry

November 2nd, 2012
5:35 pm

7-1 on the way.

2 > 7

November 2nd, 2012
7:58 pm

Last 20 years or so, the Cowboys are 3-0 against undefeated teams. And, all of them went on to win the SB. Now, do you want the Falcons to lose and continue that steak?

Eric C.

November 2nd, 2012
11:04 pm

techduck

November 2nd, 2012
11:55 pm

Hey show me where he has 60 tackles and 3 sacks.Then i will shut up.This is the 2nd best thing to happen to the Falcons(britt grimes)being the first.No hard feelings to you grimes,but Mr. Dent is going to show and the rest ot the NFL that he belongs on the football field not on the bench as a second stringer back up.You coaches are Pure stupid and i mean Stupid to let Dent be a bench warmer.Stupid for you to think that this weatherspoon is so good,he can’t even tackle one on one.I know why you are playing him and that is you got to much money in him.YOU got to get your moneys worth.You chose him playing more than winning because of this (MONEY).This spells losing and which you will aleast 4 out of 8 that are left 2 play.Coach don”t let me down now.You order our team sit down on games that you think we have won on these next 8 games,Well you got another thing coming.kept off the defense and don”t tell them 2 set down either and we might win some respect and some more games.Kept playing get alead and sit down and you are are going 2 ebarssa us all.Quit playing set down once we get alead Stupid

1stn10

November 3rd, 2012
11:12 am

Atlanta 27 Cowboys 14

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E LOVE

November 3rd, 2012
1:38 pm

NOLAN is playing Chess while Jason Garrett is playing checkers. Look out for a 5 2 4 look from the Falcons D with Willam Moore or Thomas Decoud Playing a Spoon Like Role. We must shut down Jason W of the BOYS. No worries here. WE FLY HIGH !!!! Go Birds

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elroy

November 4th, 2012
3:31 pm

In the photo caption, it says Dent’s trying to tackle Munnerlyn? Huh? I missed that game. Was it a defense versus defense scrimmage? Am I trippin’?