Overlooked in the minicamp-ending trade to acquire a new backup quarterback was the signing of reserve linebacker Tim Dobbins. The Falcons are Dobbins' fourth team in nine years and he's an experienced linebacker that will provide quality depth and most likely make his impact on special teams.
Head coach Mike Smith said Dobbins' experience will come in handy this season. With 22 games as a starter under his belt in his career, Dobbins can come off the bench and not miss a beat.
"He's had a lot of experience," Smith said last week. "He's got a lot of games under his belt. I think that's going to be important that we have some guys that have played some games."
An injury slowed Dobbins last season, but in 2012 with the Texans, he made six starts at inside linebacker. As a reserve, Dobbins will be expected to pitch in on special teams and Smith said that's where he's made a name for himself in the league.
"He's going to have to pick up some of the slack that we lost with a guy that's leaving our team," Smith said. "Akeem (Dent) was a central part on special teams. Dobbins has been a good special teams player. He's probably played more special teams snaps than he has defensive snaps. He has a track record, both as a first-, second- and third-down player and as a fourth-down player."
Dobbins led Houston with nine special teams tackles in 2011 and has double-digit special teams tackles in two other seasons (2008-09, San Diego). Dobbins' familiarity with defensive coordinator Mike Nolan's system probably played a factor in the signing, as well. He was a key reserve in Miami with Nolan in 2010, making six starts with some of the best production of his career. According to statistics from Pro Football Focus, Dobbins played 314 snaps, recording a 5.8 run defense rating.
In 2012, Dobbins started six games for Houston and played in 394 snaps, a career high. He finished the season with positive PFF grades as a run and pass defender.
With Dent gone, Dobbins will compete for a reserve role at inside linebacker behind Paul Worrilow and Joplo Bartu. 2014 fourth-round pick Prince Shembo is making a move to inside linebacker and Smith said at the close of minicamp that he's adjusting well and expects to see the rookie LB get a lot of action during training camp.