Akeem Dent is making his first career NFL start of his career for the Atlanta Falcons when they face the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday afternoon. Dent has some big shoes to fill as he is replacing Curtis Lofton, who signed with the New Orleans Saints this off season, and led the Falcons in tackles with 159 last season.
Dent was a special teams star last year for the Falcons, but will now play the middle linebacker spot when the team is in their base 4-3 coverage, and will come out when Atlanta switches to a nickel package.
As for pressure of his first NFL start, Dent is ignoring that fact and is just preparing to play:
"I'm just going out and making sure that I'm being sound fundamentally, just play assignment football and try to make some plays," Dent said.
"I don't really think about it like that," Dent said. "It's just another football game and I'm just trying to take it one step at a time. I just want to go out and play to the best of my ability. "
Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan liked what he saw in Dent in the preseason, but he also mentioned that the regular season is a different animal, and expects Dent to have a few hiccups along the way in his first start. Down the road Nolan can see Dent being a three-down player, but for now he will just see playing time in the Falcons' base set.