The Atlanta Falcons are still trying to regain an identity at the linebacker position following Curtis Lofton's free agency defection to New Orleans. While Sean Weatherspoon figures to be the new leader of the unit, the depth chart is still very shaky.
Reserve linebacker Matt Hansen, who saw some time at safety in the 2011 preseason and looked promising at linebacker in June minicamps, will likely miss all of the preseason with a knee injury. Hansen wasn't considered a contender to start, but instead serve as Weatherspoon's backup at the weakside position.
It's likely that Stephen Nicholas will retain his spot on the outside, leaving Akeem Dent or maybe free agent Lofa Tatupu in the middle to replace Lofton. However, as The Falcoholic points out, depth and backups are still very much in the air, and the Falcons may have to rely once again on perpetual roster casualty Robert James to back up Weatherspoon, and possibly see time on the field for the first time since he was drafted five seasons ago:
...James keeps coming back to these Falcons. He keeps getting released and coming back, surviving to make the roster another year. He's beaten out scores of UDFAs to grab roster spots in the past, and he survived the four-game suspension. Every year, it seems, he spends some time on the active roster, and every year, he's inactive for every game.