The Atlanta Falcons linebackers will enter training camp on July 25 knowing they'll be without the on-field services of Sean Weatherspoon, who suffered an Achilles injury in the offseason. Nonetheless, LBs coach Glenn Pires is confident that Spoon's teammates will rise to the occasion and make the most of the upcoming season.
Bartu enters year two with the Falcons, following a productive rookie season that included 16 games (13 starts), 85 tackles, 3.5 sacks and one PBU. He took all the snaps in the offseason with the ones lined up next to Paul Worrilow, and he's ready to continue showcasing his many talents in 2014. Look for a great year by the former Texas State LB.
Worrilow is coming off one of the best seasons in Falcons LB history. He played in all 16 games of 2013 (12 starts) and led the team with 127 tackles and posted two QB sacks and one PBU. In the offseason, he added 10 pounds of muscle and says he feels even quicker than last year. He's embracing the starting middle linebacker spot and looks to be a leader, on and off the field, in 2014 and beyond.
Dobbins was signed by the Falcons in the offseason, bringing to the team 110 games of experience (22 starts), including 253 tackles (195 solo) with three interceptions, two sacks and 12 PBUs. Last season, with the Houston Texans, he played in three games as a reserve linebacker. He'll likely figure to be a depth player at LB and a key factor on special teams.
Daley enters his rookie season following two years at the University of Hawaii, where he totaled 116 total tackles (68 solo) with 14.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, three forced fumbles, one interception and one PBU.
May enters training camp in his rookie season, having posted 141 total tackles (86 solo) with 30.5 tackles for loss, 11 sacks, three PBUs, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery in four years at Vanderbilt. He served as a co-captain and started all 13 games as a senior in 2013, totaling 41 tackles (25 solo), 9.5 tackles for loss and four sacks.
Shembo enters camp with high expectations. The rookie can play inside, outside and at defensive end. Falcons head coach Mike Smith said in the offseason that the team has to find a way to get him involved, and when they do, watch for Shembo to make the most of each opportunity.
Smallwood enters camp as a rookie with a chip on his shoulder, drafted in the seventh round. Since arriving for rookie minicamp and throughout the entire offseason, he's been working tirelessly to prove he belongs. He started all 12 games for UConn last season and led the Huskies with 118 tackles.
At 6-2, 258 pounds, Smith passes the eye test. He'll enter training camp following a four-year career at Tennessee, where he totaled 120 tackles (71 solo), 21.5 tackles for loss, 20 quarterback hits, five sacks, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
Spruill was selected in the fifth round (168th overall) of the 2014 NFL Draft, after the Falcons traded up with the Minnesota Vikings. He joins the team after a four-year career at Syracuse, where he left with 41 tackles for loss, second most in program history.
The Falcons drafted Starr with the 255th-overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft. In 2013, the standout at the University of South Dakota became the first Coyotes player to be named the Missouri Valley Football Conference Defensive Player of the Year. He's a high-motor guy, who will also look to be a key factor on coverage teams.