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Curtis Lofton Could Be Replaced By Sean Weatherspoon On Passing Downs

The Atlanta Falcons have some tough choices to make regarding their free agent crop. Among the players likely to command the biggest raise is middle linebacker Curtis Lofton, who's been a starter since day one and has formed one of the league's best young linebacker duos with Sean Weatherspoon.

For fans of Lofton's, it's good to see the team has ideas on what to do with him if able to keep him around. But new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan isn't expected to assign him the same role as he's had before, reports Len Pasquarelli.

Ranking high on the to-do list for new Atlanta defensive coordinator Mike Nolan is getting middle linebacker Curtis Lofton out of the team's "sub" third-down coverage schemes. Lofton is a superb, two-down 4-3 middle linebacker, and retaining the pending unrestricted free agent is a priority for the Falcons, but the four-year veteran is a liability in third-down situations. Don't be surprised if ascending star Sean Witherspoon, who is very good against the pass, moves more to the middle in "nickel" situations in 2012.

The Falcoholic's Dave Choate wonders whether Lofton will be more reluctant to stay if his playing time is essentially being trimmed, but you also have to speculate that he might prefer being able to focus on what he does best. He's proved to be excellent against the run, you see.

For more on the Falcons, visit Falcons blog The Falcoholic.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.