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Changes in store at Falcons linebacker positions



No. 43 Edmond Miles
6'5" | 235 lbs. | Experience: 2
The Falcons ended 2008 with six linebackers on the roster: a starter and backup at each position. Nine players will enter training camp. Miles was an early addition in the offseason and is one of the many players on defense looking for a roster spot. He's played in 18 career games, totaling two tackles, 16 special teams stops and a forced fumble.

No. 45 Robert James
5'11" | 220 lbs. | Experience: 1Nicknamed "The Beast" at Arizona State, General Manager Thomas Dimitroff described James as a "run and hit" linebacker when the team selected him in the fifth round of the 2008 NFL Draft. A lingering concussion put him on injured reserve during the 2008 preseason so fans have had to wait to see how much James lives up to his colorful moniker. He started 19 or 42 games for the Sun Devils recording 174 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 20 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, eight passes defensed and five interceptions.

No. 47 Rashad Bobino
5'9" | 232 lbs. | Experience: R
Bobino signed with the team on May 13 after a mini camp tryout. In 2008, Bobino helped the Texas defense rank first in the conference in scoring defense (18.8 ppg.), total defense (342.9 ypg.), rushing defense (83.5 ypg.) and second in pass efficiency defense (124.2 rating). Last season he started 13 contests and tallied 39 tackles, one tackle for loss and one fumble recovery.

No. 50 Curtis Lofton
6'0" | 242 lbs. | Experience: 2
Only one rookie linebacker had more than Lofton's 108 tackles last season. The All-Rookie team member (The Sporting News, Pro Football Weekly) returns for his second year with more responsibilities in the middle. "Curtis had an outstanding rookie season," defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder said. " Now he's in his second year and much more comfortable with the system and communications. Therefore he can play a lot faster. He did not play in our sub package last year so that's an area right now he's really working on and trying to catch up a little bit there... First year to second year we should see good, solid improvement from him."

No. 51 Tony Gilbert
6'0" | 245 lbs. | Experience: 6Gilbert was inactive for all but three games in 2008 but his veteran leadership and knowledge of Mike Smith's defensive system were unseen contributions. He has appeared in 56 career games with 23 tackles, one sack and a forced fumble. He's sixth in Jacksonville record books with 38 special team tackles.

No. 52 Coy Wire
6'0" | 225 lbs. | Experience: 8
Wire was voted a special teams captain at the close of 2008 and was twice named captain during his tenure with the Buffalo Bills. He's also an accomplished public speaker. When it comes to the game, Wire was one of the team's most productive special teamers (15 tackles). He also took on a role in the team's run-stopping efforts later in the season, finishing with 24 tackles on defense. He totaled 188 tackles, five sacks, one forced fumble and five passes defensed in his first seven NFL seasons.

No. 53 Mike Peterson
6'1" | 233 lbs. | Experience: 11The Falcons signed Peterson as an unrestricted free agent to provide veteran leadership and add passion to the defense. In just a few practices his vocal leadership was heard all over the practice field. Peterson will make a change this year, however, moving to the outside after spending the bulk of his career as a middle linebacker. "He likes to play football. I don't think it really matters if he's in the middle or the outside," VanGorder said. "He's a football player. He loves the game and is a great competitor. Anywhere you put him you know what you're going to get." Peterson, who has 127 starts and more than 1,300 tackles to his credit, said he's ready to contribute on the field and the meeting room. "It's about fitting in with the guys," he said. "That was a big thing to me even before I signed -- being able to fit in with the guys, the coaches and help the team get where we want to be."

No. 54 Stephen Nicholas
6'3" | 230 lbs. | Experience: 3

Coaches spent the better part of two seasons developing ways to get Nicholas and his athletic ability on the field. Now with a chance to compete for a starting job, Nicholas is carrying the same humble focus that got him through two seasons. "My goal is to go out and help the team the best I can," he said. "That's always been my goal and I'll stick to that. The best way I can help this team and compete is what I try to do." Nicholas has 46 career tackles and two sacks.

No. 59 Spencer Adkins
5'11" | 242 lbs. | Experience: R
Adkins wasn't a starter at Miami (Fla.) but he was a contributor in the pass rush and on special teams. He left the school with 72 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, five sacks and one interception. Falcons director of player personnel Les Snead said the team was attracted to Adkins' speed, which was measured close to 4.3 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

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