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The Falcons assigned MLB Akeem Dent signal-calling duties for the first time this season in their Week Nine win over the Cowboys, and the team was very pleased with how he responded to the challenge. Head coach Mike Smith said it was Dent’s best game of the season “by far.”
“The thing I’m most proud of is the way he handled the huddle,” Smith said of Dent, who was selected to handle the signal-calling duties because WLB Sean Weatherspoon, who is in his first season as the defensive signalcaller, was out with an injury. “(Dent) was a signalcaller on our base defense and our sub defense, and I thought he did a very nice job. He was very active.”
The Dallas game was only the second time this season Dent — who mostly has been limited to playing in the base packages — played every defensive snap. He had 100 percent participation vs. the Raiders in Week Six, when Oakland rushed for 149 yards on 32 carries. The Cowboys, who were without RB DeMarco Murray, managed only 65 yards on 18 carries.
With Curtis Lofton departing in free agency, Dent had big shoes to fill as the team’s new starting middle linebacker The Falcons’ run defense, which ranked sixth last season, has fallen to 24th this season on Dent’s watch, but the Falcons believe he benefited a great deal from his experience in the first half of the season and expect the team’s increased emphasis on defending the run in recent weeks will result in improvement by the second-year veteran.