With Lofa Tatupu gone and Curtis Lofton signing on with a “proven winner” in the New Orleans Saints (talk about taking a jab at your former team)—ouch, Akeem Dent is the latest Falcon being asked to step into a starting role to prove his worth.
…the Falcons viewed Akeem Dent as a legitimate contender to win the starting job at middle linebacker. The Falcons believed he could be an effective two-down player in 2012, sources said, but they wanted some veteran insurance. Dent would not be handed the opportunity with ex-Seahawk Lofa Tatupu also in the mix to start in the middle….
…The Falcons could eventually look outside for help from a free agent if Dent struggles during the preseason, but we expect Dent to get every opportunity to prove he’s the answer in the weeks to come. Dent, a third-round pick in 2011, became a core special-teams player as a rookie and the Falcons saw in him the potential to be an adequate and relatively cheap answer at middle linebacker after Curtis Lofton departed for the Saints in free agency. (Dan Parr, “Is Falcon’s Dent ready for starting role?”, profootballweekly.com, 7/24/12)
If the Falcons are going to make moves in the NFC South and push for a shot an an NFC Championship, they’re going to need a better showing from the defense than they have seen in recent years.
It doesn’t take an analyst or even a seasoned viewer of the game to notice how inconsistent and under-achieving the Falcon’s defensive unit has performed despite the presence of players like John Abraham, the now departed Curtis Lofton, and the scrappy Brent Grimes.
Mike Nolan, the new defensive coordinator for the Falcons, courtesy of the San Francisco Forty-Niners is supposed to bring the x-factor that Atlanta has been missing, but he’ll need guys like Dent, who can offer the speed and versatility he covets, to perform well.