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2011 players the Falcons have shown interest in


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Nothing wrong with Moten as a player, but 6'2, 235 lbs is the size of a WLB in a 4-3. We've got a better WLB in Weatherspoon at 6'1, 240 lbs.

The two best 4-3 SLBs in the NFL right now, Kamerion Wimbley (6'3, 255 lbs), Brian Cushing (6'3, 260 lbs), are able to take on blockers on the strong side and discard them because of their strength, size, and speed. That's why I like guys like Martez Wilson (6'4, 250 lbs) and Akeem Ayers (6'3, 255 lbs) as fits for our 4-3 SLB spot. Playmaking linebackers with size, strength, and speed, and especially Wilson who is often characterized with that beloved word: explosive.

I think our need for playmaking LBs who can cover is very much understated as a big problem in our defense. We had a terrible 3rd down defense, and that isn't because QBs were zipping passes 20 yards down field every time beating our safeties or throwing out routes beating our QBs. We use our CBs in a zone coverage or in man coverages, and they constantly get beat over the middle and other teams extend their drives. It is hard to get to the QB when all the QB needs to do is take a 3 step drop and hit a slant or a TE to get the 1st. Guys like Wilson and Ayers could make a big difference for our defense, and if Weatherspoon develops into a stud WLB like I hope he does, having two LBs like that could make our defense really great.

Our scheme dont call for a big SLB (unless the guy is a just a freak of nature) ... The guy has to be stout enough and be able to cover....

I look at the Titans..run a similar scheme to ours....last year 6'2 228lbs Gerald McRath....

The LB has to fit what we need him to do.

TD said it himself..... They felt like Cush didnt fit our scheme.

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Our scheme dont call for a big SLB (unless the guy is a just a freak of nature) ... The guy has to be stout enough and be able to cover....

I look at the Titans..run a similar scheme to ours....last year 6'2 228lbs Gerald McRath....

The LB has to fit what we need him to do.

TD said it himself..... They felt like Cush didnt fit our scheme.

Gerald McRath -- if you go all the way back -- was a guy I was clamoring for when he was in the draft. While McRath is an OLB for the Titans, he is certainly a WLB.

I don't know why you used the Titans as an example unless if was only because both of their OLBs are under 230 lbs. The Titans last year with Gerald McRath as their SLB finished 26th in Team Defense (yards/game). That's behind the Bills, Browns, Colts, Rams, and even the Panthers.

Don't turn around and say the Texans with Cushing did worse, because Cushing was one of only two studs on that defense all season. And yes, perhaps TD felt Cushing was not a fit, but the Texans run a very similar scheme and Cushing blossomed into one of the top 4-3 SLBs in the entire league. Scouts also felt that Reggie Bush was going to be the greatest RB of all-time in draft evaluations. Short answer: TD was probably wrong (this can happen).

I 100% agree that a player has to fit what we do. Please tell me how a 6'4, 250 lb LB with 4.4 speed that can blow up the run, beat plays to the edge, get pressure on a QB, and can cover extremely well does not fit what we want out of our LBs? I never said the SLB has to be big, being big is just a bonus if you've got everything else -- strength is more important -- which is why I'm not opposed to us ending up with Bruce Carter somewhere in this draft and he's sized more like Gerald McRath, except he can be a 4-3 SLB -- McRath cannot.

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Didn't mean to hijack the thread. I'll open up a different thread if this discussion is going to continue.

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Gerald McRath -- if you go all the way back -- was a guy I was clamoring for when he was in the draft. While McRath is an OLB for the Titans, he is certainly a WLB.

I don't know why you used the Titans as an example unless if was only because both of their OLBs are under 230 lbs. The Titans last year with Gerald McRath as their SLB finished 26th in Team Defense (yards/game). That's behind the Bills, Browns, Colts, Rams, and even the Panthers.

Don't turn around and say the Texans with Cushing did worse, because Cushing was one of only two studs on that defense all season. And yes, perhaps TD felt Cushing was not a fit, but the Texans run a very similar scheme and Cushing blossomed into one of the top 4-3 SLBs in the entire league. Scouts also felt that Reggie Bush was going to be the greatest RB of all-time in draft evaluations. Short answer: TD was probably wrong (this can happen).

I 100% agree that a player has to fit what we do. Please tell me how a 6'4, 250 lb LB with 4.4 speed that can blow up the run, beat plays to the edge, get pressure on a QB, and can cover extremely well does not fit what we want out of our LBs? I never said the SLB has to be big, being big is just a bonus if you've got everything else -- strength is more important -- which is why I'm not opposed to us ending up with Bruce Carter somewhere in this draft and he's sized more like Gerald McRath, except he can be a 4-3 SLB -- McRath cannot.

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Didn't mean to hijack the thread. I'll open up a different thread if this discussion is going to continue.

come on dude.. their offense was terrible... The D wasnt the problem...

I'm just getting to the point of what we like in our scheme... it is what it is... a guy may be impressive but TD always say he will go with the guy that fits his scheme.

Im not disagreeing with what you are saying... im saying what i think TD and Coach Smith want and would do.

Also... Cush wasnt good last year... The guy was a beast his rookie year... Some will say the roids or this or that....The guy was a beast his rookie year so im still high on the guy... one down year dont make me give upon a guy....

But anyway.. I'm just saying what i think TD is looking for... dont think size of our SLB is a big deal... The guy has to be able to cover and stout enough against the run.

I see us bringing Nicholas back tho.

TD seem to really be high on Colin McCarthy

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come on dude.. their offense was terrible... The D wasnt the problem...

I'm just getting to the point of what we like in our scheme... it is what it is... a guy may be impressive but TD always say he will go with the guy that fits his scheme.

Im not disagreeing with what you are saying... im saying what i think TD and Coach Smith want and would do.

Also... Cush wasnt good last year... The guy was a beast his rookie year... Some will say the roids or this or that....The guy was a beast his rookie year so im still high on the guy... one down year dont make me give upon a guy....

But anyway.. I'm just saying what i think TD is looking for... dont think size of our SLB is a big deal... The guy has to be able to cover and stout enough against the run.

I see us bringing Nicholas back tho.

Yep. Nic and Pete probably. OLB'er class is not that good IMO.

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Yep. Nic and Pete probably. OLB'er class is not that good IMO.

Nic have to be the starter tho... I also hope BVG can found a way to get Adkins some snaps... The guy is a good ST guy.. Like Coach Smith said... This offseason he could earn him some PT

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I think coverage ability is going to be critical for our SLB, so speed/passing game awareness will trump size/strength.

I'd say 6'2, 235 with a 4.45 is going to be a lot closer to what we take than 6'4, 250 with a 4.85. Obviously, you want both, but if we have to choose one or the other, we need the guy with speed who can cover.

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1) come on dude.. their offense was terrible... The D wasnt the problem...

2) I'm just getting to the point of what we like in our scheme... it is what it is... a guy may be impressive but TD always say he will go with the guy that fits his scheme.

Im not disagreeing with what you are saying... im saying what i think TD and Coach Smith want and would do.

Also... Cush wasnt good last year... The guy was a beast his rookie year... Some will say the roids or this or that....The guy was a beast his rookie year so im still high on the guy... one down year dont make me give upon a guy....

3) But anyway.. I'm just saying what i think TD is looking for... dont think size of our SLB is a big deal... The guy has to be able to cover and stout enough against the run.

I see us bringing Nicholas back tho.

TD seem to really be high on Colin McCarthy

1) Their offense and defense were both bad. You take Jason Babin and Cortland Finnegan off that defense and tell me who is good for NFL standards.

2) I know all about scheme and fit, and I preach that we should try to optimize talent with scheme fit. Stephen Nicholas is a decent player and he may fit decently well (he isn't great at anything) what we try to do on defense, but what I am saying is I think a player like Martez Wilson or Akeem Ayers fits what we do on defense for the 4-3 SLB position very well. Both are great to very good athletes who are great to very good at all aspects of linebacking. We need defensive playmakers -- particularly linebackers -- which is why we drafted Spoon last year. So far he has not had the impact we hoped but its only been one season. We still need an impact LB, and I don't see why, if there is no DE, WR, or OT worth our pick at #27, we should not take an explosive SLB who can improve all facets of our defense?

You are saying you don't think TD and Co. think a guy like Wilson will fit our scheme. I am saying I think he does. I also never said having big size was the most important, but when you are taking on an OT and a fullback or an extra blocker on the strong side, being 6'4, 250 lbs compared to 6'2, 230 certainly helps.

3) In reality, I also see us bringing back Nicholas if only because there won't be a CBA before the draft and thus Nicholas' restricted free agent tag will hold through the draft and we will draft for other needs. If free agency started at the regular time, I really think a team like the Broncos or a 3-4 team like the Chiefs or Cardinals would overpay to stick him at ILB and we wouldn't want to match their offer. Then everyone would look at our team heading into the draft minus Nicholas and see SLB as a huge hole that needs to be filled. I'm taking the approach that we may either lose Nicholas or he needs to be upgraded anyway because simply, he needs to be upgraded. The Texans had Zach Diles when they drafted Brian Cushing -- this is a very similar example to what I'm proposing. Diles is decent and he'll draw some interest on the free agent market if it ever happens this year, but Cushing is playmaker -- he probably would have cracked 100 tackles had he not missed 4 games due to suspension. If you put the Texans front 7 with our secondary, that would be a very good defense.

I don't think much of anything about Colin McCarthy except that if he is the starting SLB going into next season, I'll be terrified.

My point is, if all of the top-tier DEs, WRs, and OTs are off of the board at #27 and we can't trade down and we need to make a pick, are you going to take a second-tier player at WR who may not be better than Michael Jenkins, a second-tier player at DE who may not be better than Kroy Biermann, a second-tier player at OT who may not crack the starting lineup over Sam Baker or Tyson Clabo, or if Clabo leaves, Will Switek/Garrett Reynolds, or a top-tier SLB who can come in and be a game-changer for our defense? Our only defensive holes are at SLB and DE as far as I'm concerned, and taking a CB would be a luxury which would push Grimes into the NB role (except TD is sold on Owens as the NB). So if there is no DE, we should go for SLB imo. Will it happen? Unlikely given who we've been scouting. But my opinion and that of the front office do not have to be the same just because I'm a Falcon fan. I'm not claiming to be smarter than TD by any means, but a lot of people TD included were ecstatic that we drafted Peria Jerry in the first and I cried (exaggeration) that we drafted a 24 year old rookie with serious injury concerns (he had an extensive injury history coming out of Ole Miss). The players I wanted there: Vontae Davis (imagine Davis at CB with Dunta and Grimes as the NB), Hakeem Nicks (imagine Nicks as the #2, at the time I called it the Anquan Boldin role), and Sean Smith (for the same reason as Davis). Any one of those guys would have made this team better than Jerry did, and unless Jerry does something this year, looks to be the first true bust of the TD regime (it happens).

We had scouts at Illinois' pro day yesterday, probably looking at: Mikel Leshoure and Jarred Fayson (sleeper WR pick), but I hope they also caught a glimpse of Wilson. I read he didn't have a great pro day, but it's about what you do in pads, not in shorts against air.

Yep. Nic and Pete probably. OLB'er class is not that good IMO.

I agree after the first 4-3 LBs -- Wilson, Ayers, Carter -- that the class is not that good. Then again, there are also very underrated later guys like Mark Herzlich, Greg Jones, and Josh Bynes could end up being steals.

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I think coverage ability is going to be critical for our SLB, so speed/passing game awareness will trump size/strength.

I'd say 6'2, 235 with a 4.45 is going to be a lot closer to what we take than 6'4, 250 with a 4.85. Obviously, you want both, but if we have to choose one or the other, we need the guy with speed who can cover.

I totally agree, but that isn't at all the case here.

The guy I'm touting -- Martez Wilson -- is 6'4, 250 lbs, and runs a 4.45 40.

Obviously, you want both, and Wilson has it all. He also has a knack for blitzing, and I think in terms of pure athleticism and potential his ceiling is higher than Aaron Curry's.

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I also hope BVG can found a way to get Adkins some snaps... The guy is a good ST guy.. Like Coach Smith said... This offseason he could earn him some PT

Sidbury, Adkins, and Valdez get a lot of love for having produced little and failing to beat out marginal backups. With there potential we may have underestimated how raw they really were. I want to see some noticeable progress from these guys or it may be time to cut bait.

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1) Their offense and defense were both bad. You take Jason Babin and Cortland Finnegan off that defense and tell me who is good for NFL standards.

2) I know all about scheme and fit, and I preach that we should try to optimize talent with scheme fit. Stephen Nicholas is a decent player and he may fit decently well (he isn't great at anything) what we try to do on defense, but what I am saying is I think a player like Martez Wilson or Akeem Ayers fits what we do on defense for the 4-3 SLB position very well. Both are great to very good athletes who are great to very good at all aspects of linebacking. We need defensive playmakers -- particularly linebackers -- which is why we drafted Spoon last year. So far he has not had the impact we hoped but its only been one season. We still need an impact LB, and I don't see why, if there is no DE, WR, or OT worth our pick at #27, we should not take an explosive SLB who can improve all facets of our defense?

You are saying you don't think TD and Co. think a guy like Wilson will fit our scheme. I am saying I think he does. I also never said having big size was the most important, but when you are taking on an OT and a fullback or an extra blocker on the strong side, being 6'4, 250 lbs compared to 6'2, 230 certainly helps.

3) In reality, I also see us bringing back Nicholas if only because there won't be a CBA before the draft and thus Nicholas' restricted free agent tag will hold through the draft and we will draft for other needs. If free agency started at the regular time, I really think a team like the Broncos or a 3-4 team like the Chiefs or Cardinals would overpay to stick him at ILB and we wouldn't want to match their offer. Then everyone would look at our team heading into the draft minus Nicholas and see SLB as a huge hole that needs to be filled. I'm taking the approach that we may either lose Nicholas or he needs to be upgraded anyway because simply, he needs to be upgraded. The Texans had Zach Diles when they drafted Brian Cushing -- this is a very similar example to what I'm proposing. Diles is decent and he'll draw some interest on the free agent market if it ever happens this year, but Cushing is playmaker -- he probably would have cracked 100 tackles had he not missed 4 games due to suspension. If you put the Texans front 7 with our secondary, that would be a very good defense.

I don't think much of anything about Colin McCarthy except that if he is the starting SLB going into next season, I'll be terrified.

My point is, if all of the top-tier DEs, WRs, and OTs are off of the board at #27 and we can't trade down and we need to make a pick, are you going to take a second-tier player at WR who may not be better than Michael Jenkins, a second-tier player at DE who may not be better than Kroy Biermann, a second-tier player at OT who may not crack the starting lineup over Sam Baker or Tyson Clabo, or if Clabo leaves, Will Switek/Garrett Reynolds, or a top-tier SLB who can come in and be a game-changer for our defense? Our only defensive holes are at SLB and DE as far as I'm concerned, and taking a CB would be a luxury which would push Grimes into the NB role (except TD is sold on Owens as the NB). So if there is no DE, we should go for SLB imo. Will it happen? Unlikely given who we've been scouting. But my opinion and that of the front office do not have to be the same just because I'm a Falcon fan. I'm not claiming to be smarter than TD by any means, but a lot of people TD included were ecstatic that we drafted Peria Jerry in the first and I cried (exaggeration) that we drafted a 24 year old rookie with serious injury concerns (he had an extensive injury history coming out of Ole Miss). The players I wanted there: Vontae Davis (imagine Davis at CB with Dunta and Grimes as the NB), Hakeem Nicks (imagine Nicks as the #2, at the time I called it the Anquan Boldin role), and Sean Smith (for the same reason as Davis). Any one of those guys would have made this team better than Jerry did, and unless Jerry does something this year, looks to be the first true bust of the TD regime (it happens).

We had scouts at Illinois' pro day yesterday, probably looking at: Mikel Leshoure and Jarred Fayson (sleeper WR pick), but I hope they also caught a glimpse of Wilson. I read he didn't have a great pro day, but it's about what you do in pads, not in shorts against air.

Timeout... LOL... Let me get thru this essay.... But seriously... all this going back to Wilson... I never said Wilson dont fit our scheme...Heck i said i like the guy and his potential... I said if he is there in the 2nd round... Thats a good pick... Ayers is the guy that i dont think would really fit us...I see him as a 3-4 LB... If we could get Wilson in the 2nd round.. i would be all for it... I just dont see LB as a major need if we can bring Nic back... and also.. I feel like Nic is very underated... I think he has been our best all around LB the last 2 years....

If we are talking about value in the draft... OL would bring us the most value or grabbing Kyle Rudolph or maybe even grabbing a CB...

I feel like We are in a position where we must grab that DE we really need.. Trade up to get your guy... We have to face Peyton Manning, Schaub, Cutler, Brees (2x) , Rodgers, Freeman, and Vick next year...... We must find another pass rusher... Im not looking for the guy to be all word his 1st year.. We just need the guy to give us good pressure along with solid vs the run... If Abe got hurt with what we have now... That will be very very ugly.

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Sidbury, Adkins, and Valdez get a lot of love for having produced little and failing to beat out marginal backups. With there potential we may have underestimated how raw they really were. I want to see some noticeable progress from these guys or it may be time to cut bait.

I really dont count Valdez because not only was the guy an UDFA .. The smart thing was to stash him on the PS and develop him for a couple of years because this day was coming (possibly losing 3 O-Lineman)... He wasnt going to play much anyway right now so the PS stashing was smart.

We all knew it would take Adkins atleast 2 to 3 years to develop into something if possible.

Sidbury is the guy i think most including me underestimated how raw he is even tho my ppls kept telling me... The guy has so much god given ability that you think.. He can atleast rush while he develop... But its more then that especially with our rotation and the way coach smith run things... I do think this is his year to show what he can do in the rotation... During the preseason last year... I saw the rushing ability but his run defense was still lacking... We will see this season... I think its a big year for him.. He has to atleast show he is getting there/improving.

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Nicholas is not the problem. He was our most consistent LB all year and is still continuing to improve. If we can resign him for anything reasonable then we definitely should.

We can keep beating around the bush, but the real problem in our cover 2 defense is that we have a MLB that is abysmal in coverage. Lofton is a beast in run support, but its virtually impossible to run an effective cover 2 without a great coverage LB in the middle.

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As good as his teammates workouts were -- and considering that he looked fantastic in the measureable drills at the Combine -- expectations were high for linebacker Martez Wilson.

Unfortunately, those expectations were dashed when Wilson struggled in positional drills, run by the Bengals' Jeff FitzGerald.

The scout, who works for a team unlikely to select a linebacker in the first half of the draft, didn't pull any punches.

"Everyone left that workout disappointed with [Wilson]. His footwork was bad, his hands were bad, even his countenance was bad. The other kids were having fun and seemed to enjoy the competition. He didn't look like he wanted to be there," the scout said.

"It wasn't a good workout for him - but one more indicative of how he actually plays. He looked great in the measureables at the Combine and everyone was talking about him, but he's not a very instinctive player so that speed doesn't translate onto the field."

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The road from Division III college football to the NFL is a long one, but it's a trek Bridgewater wide receiver Tyler Beiler is hoping to make.

Beiler, the ODAC offensive player of the year and a Division III All-American in 2010, was among the six players to work out for scouts from five NFL teams Wednesday at James Madison.

The other five players were all from JMU: offensive linemen Theo Sherman and Brandon Monroe, running back Jamal Sullivan, wide receiver Marcus Turner, and defensive lineman Ronnell Brown.

The Browns, Ravens, Raiders, Buccaneers and Falcons had scouts on hand Wednesday.

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Beiler succeeded in creating a buzz, at least inside the weight room at the Plecker Athletic Performance Center, with a 40.5-inch vertical jump, the best of the day.

Beiler also did 15 reps on the 225-pound bench press, and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.39 seconds, a time matched by Turner as the day's best.

Kids always run faster in pro days, still, that's fast. Looks like the Falcons want to get one two late round steals at WR.

Bridgewater has him listed at 6' and 185 lbs.

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The road from Division III college football to the NFL is a long one, but it's a trek Bridgewater wide receiver Tyler Beiler is hoping to make.

Beiler, the ODAC offensive player of the year and a Division III All-American in 2010, was among the six players to work out for scouts from five NFL teams Wednesday at James Madison.

The other five players were all from JMU: offensive linemen Theo Sherman and Brandon Monroe, running back Jamal Sullivan, wide receiver Marcus Turner, and defensive lineman Ronnell Brown.

The Browns, Ravens, Raiders, Buccaneers and Falcons had scouts on hand Wednesday.

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Beiler succeeded in creating a buzz, at least inside the weight room at the Plecker Athletic Performance Center, with a 40.5-inch vertical jump, the best of the day.

Beiler also did 15 reps on the 225-pound bench press, and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.39 seconds, a time matched by Turner as the day's best.

Kids always run faster in pro days, still, that's fast. Looks like the Falcons want to get one two late round steals at WR.

Bridgewater has him listed at 6' and 185 lbs.

I def see us getting a WR in the 2nd or 3rd round.. and also get a late round WR or UDFA (when we can) .... TD are looking for speed guys.

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Nicholas is not the problem. He was our most consistent LB all year and is still continuing to improve. If we can resign him for anything reasonable then we definitely should.

We can keep beating around the bush, but the real problem in our cover 2 defense is that we have a MLB that is abysmal in coverage. Lofton is a beast in run support, but its virtually impossible to run an effective cover 2 without a great coverage LB in the middle.

Nicholas was our best coverage linebacker last season - heck, he was one of the best coverage linebackers in all of the NFL - so not only do I think we should resign him, I think he and Spoon should be the only linebackers on the field in passing situations.

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Nicholas was our best coverage linebacker last season - heck, he was one of the best coverage linebackers in all of the NFL - so not only do I think we should resign him, I think he and Spoon should be the only linebackers on the field in passing situations.

Agree with this.

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Nicholas was our best coverage linebacker last season - heck, he was one of the best coverage linebackers in all of the NFL - so not only do I think we should resign him, I think he and Spoon should be the only linebackers on the field in passing situations.

Good post

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Yeah, check this out:

http://www.footballoutsiders.com/player/16593/stephen-nicholas

They haven't added 2010's stats yet, but I read elsewhere on their site that Nicholas was the #1 linebacker in the league in 2010 as far as stop rate/pass defense goes. In fact, they were laughing because Nic is better against the pass than the run.

He's still young, and in my opinion has gotten better every year since we drafted him. I'd be stunned if we let him walk away. Nic, Spoon, Lofton are our 'backers of the future, and if we draft someone this year, I would think it would only be for depth... I wouldn't be opposed to Matthews, Irving or Herzlich in the 4th if they're there because they can play any position.

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I dont get why fans are not as high on Nicholas as they are... I have been saying this for 2 years... He is a really good LB... I feel like we should blitz him more also.

I agree with what someone said earlier... Lofton is a weak link in the pass game... He is a sure tackler vs the run but he missed tackles in coverage....

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