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LB Wheeler Happy to Be Back in Atlanta

The weather is perfect for practice in Flowery Branch as the Falcons prepare for their game against the Titans on Sunday in Nashville. Here are photos of the Falcons at work in Week 7.

When news broke that Philip Wheeler agreed to a contract with the Falcons, more than 100 friends from Georgia Tech, his alma mater, welcomed him back to the Peach State with congratulatory texts and phone calls.

Wheeler's first week at Flowery Branch has been similar to his experience in college: little downtime, lots of cramming. The 30-year-old will be asked to play weakside linebacker in Dan Quinn's defense and, knowing how good this team has been of late, is happy to contribute in any way possible.

"Whatever they ask me to do, I can bring that," he said. "I'm not sure exactly what my role will be, but I know at some point I should get opportunities to play. That's what I'm here for. It's not like they need a whole bunch of help everywhere."

The 2009 third-round pick started working with coaches right after signing on Tuesday and had a good first practice, according to DC Richard Smith. Learning a new system midseason is no easy task, but Wheeler, who's been spending a lot of time with Atlanta's playbook in hand, believes the Falcons employ a "simple and effective" defense, which has made this transition relatively smooth.

The Falcons hope Wheeler can adapt quickly produce the way he did in 2012 and 2013, when he made 109 and 118 tackles, respectively. In 2012 he also added three sacks, 14 QB hits and 44 stops—all career-highs.

"It's the coverage ability, the speed that we like first," Dan Quinn said of the veteran LB. "I thought he could really roll, playing the style we love. And then the ability to play the hooks and break on the football. He's had a lot of experience playing, and that was a factor for sure, too."

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