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Daniel Cox

One of the missing men from the Falcons' offseason programs was linebacker Stephen Nicholas. He was present every day at the facility, but he did not practice with his teammates during the offseason as he continued to rehab an injury from the 2011 season.

Nicholas was only able to participate in 10 games last season, the first time since 2007 that he did not play in all 16 games in a regular season. He finished the year with 35 tackles, not an overwhelming number, but ProFootballFocus.com just released their tackling efficiency stats for linebackers for the past three seasons and Nicholas is among the league leaders.

Falcons head coach Mike Smith said during the offseason that he expected Nicholas to return to practice when training camp begins in late July and he will pair with Sean Weatherspoon to create a formidable duo at outside linebacker for Atlanta. Weatherspoon plays the glamour position of weakside linebacker, a position that allows him to be all over the field. Nicholas mans the strongside and does the dirty work cleaning up what's left behind.

According to PFF, Nicholas has 1,636 snaps during the last three years with 132 tackles. His nine missed tackles gives him a ratio of 18 percent, meaning he missed a tackle for every 18 tackles he made.

Nicholas' production puts him in the same company with notable linebackers like Patrick Willis, Jerod Mayo and Paul Posluszny.

A return to health will put Nicholas back in the starting lineup next season and he could be a benefactor of defensive coordinator Mike Nolan's aggressive and varied scheme. Nolan has said he prefers having numerous players with sacks and Nicholas is an aggressive player that hasn't always had the opportunity to rush the quarterback.

Additionally, the efficient Nicholas could get more opportunities to put his sure-tackling to good use. While in college at South Florida, he set the school record for tackles for loss and his 320 career tackles ranks second in school history.

The underrated Nicholas could take a step forward into more prominent recognition during the 2012 season and his pairing with Weatherspoon give the Falcons two highly talented outside linebackers that rival anything the rest of the NFC South has to offer.

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Nicholas and Spoon can be one of the best LB combos if Nicholas could stay healthy. He can cover, tackle, and can pressure the QB. I hope that he stays healthy this season because he will help make Nolan's D even more versatile.

Yeah I've never been sold that Nicholas was a beast, but think he is a good all around LB. He kind of reminds me of Boley and Demarrio Williams when they were here. All three are different in a way though. Nicholas has the talent to be really solid for us he just has to stay healthy. I read an article around 4 yrs ago on Nic his college coach in the article said he timed Nic running a 4.3 forty.

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Nicholas has kinda' been a forgotten player on these board over the past season. I remember last off-season a lot of people were fairly high on him and had big hopes. None of it really turned negative, but it seems like people just quit talking about him. There's a reason he got a big contract. He is a good player, but I think he'd be a better WLB.

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Nicholas

2011 10 games

2010 16 games

2009 16 games

2008 16 games

2007 13 games

ie 1.8 games a year missed

Weatherspoon

2011 16 games

2010 11 games

ie 2.5 games a year missed

Is Nicholas really not staying healthy????

Edited by delaigle
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Daniel Cox

One of the missing men from the Falcons' offseason programs was linebacker Stephen Nicholas. He was present every day at the facility, but he did not practice with his teammates during the offseason as he continued to rehab an injury from the 2011 season.

Nicholas was only able to participate in 10 games last season, the first time since 2007 that he did not play in all 16 games in a regular season. He finished the year with 35 tackles, not an overwhelming number, but ProFootballFocus.com just released their tackling efficiency stats for linebackers for the past three seasons and Nicholas is among the league leaders.

Falcons head coach Mike Smith said during the offseason that he expected Nicholas to return to practice when training camp begins in late July and he will pair with Sean Weatherspoon to create a formidable duo at outside linebacker for Atlanta. Weatherspoon plays the glamour position of weakside linebacker, a position that allows him to be all over the field. Nicholas mans the strongside and does the dirty work cleaning up what's left behind.

According to PFF, Nicholas has 1,636 snaps during the last three years with 132 tackles. His nine missed tackles gives him a ratio of 18 percent, meaning he missed a tackle for every 18 tackles he made.

Nicholas' production puts him in the same company with notable linebackers like Patrick Willis, Jerod Mayo and Paul Posluszny.

A return to health will put Nicholas back in the starting lineup next season and he could be a benefactor of defensive coordinator Mike Nolan's aggressive and varied scheme. Nolan has said he prefers having numerous players with sacks and Nicholas is an aggressive player that hasn't always had the opportunity to rush the quarterback.

Additionally, the efficient Nicholas could get more opportunities to put his sure-tackling to good use. While in college at South Florida, he set the school record for tackles for loss and his 320 career tackles ranks second in school history.

The underrated Nicholas could take a step forward into more prominent recognition during the 2012 season and his pairing with Weatherspoon give the Falcons two highly talented outside linebackers that rival anything the rest of the NFC South has to offer.

Well yall boys already know I'm a big Nic fan.

Hopefully he can get well. I think he has a high grade turf toe. Those are hard to rebound from. Ask Deion.

Buddy can play SLB, WLB or DE pass rusher.

Solid in pass coverage.

Nolan should love him. Very versatile.

A decent pick up by McKay in 2007.

Yeah dude passed on Willis and Reevis and blew chunks on Busterson in 2007, but he brought in Nic, Grimes, Ovie, Dahl, Blalock, Laurent, Houston, Snelling, Weems and Horn that year. Not bad. Not bad at all son.

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Nicholas

2011 10 games

2010 16 games

2009 16 games

2008 16 games

2007 13 games

ie 1.8 games a year missed

Weatherspoon

2011 16 games

2010 11 games

ie 2.5 games a year missed

Is Nicholas really not staying healthy????

Please... you can't compare a guy who's played 2 seasons to a guy who's played 5.

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Please... you can't compare a guy who's played 2 seasons to a guy who's played 5.

Why not? everyone else on these boards compares Ryan to P Manning, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, etc and their playing times are quite different? ( and they've been doing it for all 4 years1)

My point was just to rebut a statement that Nicholas was likely to have an injury again. (ie "if he can stay healthy")

Just to show he was no worse than other LBs

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Nic has not been good in coverage. Our lbs have sucked in coverage for several years. When it was time for the nickel back, Nic came out of the game.

Maybe he will be better with Nolan.

He came out because they didn't want to take their MLB off the field. The fact that Nolan is going to go with Nic over Lofa and Dent proves this. Lofton was the play caller and default leader of the defense and you don't take that off the field.

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He came out because they didn't want to take their MLB off the field. The fact that Nolan is going to go with Nic over Lofa and Dent proves this. Lofton was the play caller and default leader of the defense and you don't take that off the field.

What you say is possible. Stupid coaching in other words. How do you know that Nic will have preference over Lofa?

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Nic has not been good in coverage. Our lbs have sucked in coverage for several years. When it was time for the nickel back, Nic came out of the game.

Maybe he will be better with Nolan.

Only ONE outside LB in the entire league had a higher PFF coverage rating than Nic in 2010. He slipped to the middle of the pack last year but was still solid.
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Only ONE outside LB in the entire league had a higher PFF coverage rating than Nic in 2010. He slipped to the middle of the pack last year but was still solid.

I guess all those 3rd and long completions had nothing to do with Nic in 2010. I'm just not seeing any plays being made by him But average is better than bad and he is good in the locker room and special teams.

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Yeah I've never been sold that Nicholas was a beast, but think he is a good all around LB. He kind of reminds me of Boley and Demarrio Williams when they were here. All three are different in a way though. Nicholas has the talent to be really solid for us he just has to stay healthy. I read an article around 4 yrs ago on Nic his college coach in the article said he timed Nic running a 4.3 forty.

Link that please.

Nicholas has been average for us, maybe his "solid" bu unspectacular college play doesn't translate that well to the NFL....or it's status quo and he's been solid but unspectacular.

I've always wanted a better SLB and now that he's nearing the back end of his career in the NFL I will again want one this offseason. For the time being I hope he has an above average season and stays healthy for us.

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