Posted: 5:14 pm Thursday, June 19th, 2014

Akeem Dent’s last conversation as an Atlanta Falcon 

By D. Orlando Ledbetter

Here's former Falcons linebacker Akeem Dent during his last practice with the team on Wednesday. (Kent D. Johnson/KJohnson@ajc.com)

Here’s former Falcons linebacker Akeem Dent during his last practice with the team on Wednesday. (Kent D. Johnson/KJohnson@ajc.com)

(The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s sports intern Tanya Sichynsky, who’s set to graduate from the University of Georgia in December, has been out at minicamp assisting in the coverage this week. She was slated to do story on linebacker Akeem Dent. Little did Ms. Sichynsky know that she’d be doing the last local interview with Dent as an Atlanta Falcon. The former Douglass High and Georgia standout was traded just hours after the interview. Here’s her story.)  

By Tanya Sichynsky

FLOWERY BRANCH — After Wednesday’s minicamp practice, I had a few minutes with now former Falcons linebacker Akeem Dent. We spoke just after 5:30 p.m., and unbeknownst to him, he would be traded later that evening.

The news that the Falcons traded Dent for Houston Texans backup quarterback T.J. Yates broke just as I was getting to bed, and as it did I couldn’t help but think about the earlier conversation.

Last week at the Falcons OTA linebacker Sean Weatherspoon ruptured his Achilles tendon, leaving a hole in the Falcons’ linebacking corps in leadership as well as skill. For Dent, who saw his productivity decline from 2012 (42 tackles) to 2013 (26 tackles), an unfortunate circumstance for the team could become an opportunity to salvage his career.

“With Spoon going down, him being one of our more vocal leaders and things like that, we just have to come in — myself, Paul Worrilow, Joplo Bartu and a couple other guys are going to have to come in — and step up and fill that void, along with [veteran safety] Will Moore,” Dent said after practice Wednesday. “But within the linebacker group we just have to come out every day focused, just take on more responsibility as leaders and just take the control of the defense.”

At the time of Weatherspoon’s injury and during minicamp, Dent played with the defense’s second unit primarily alongside rookie Prince Shembo, a fourth-round outside linebacker from Notre Dame.

Once the leading tackler in the NFC Championship Game of the 2012 season, Dent found himself not only competing for reps with rookies during practice, but also vying for a spot on the Falcons’ 53-man roster. Even on Wednesday, Dent smiled and chuckled at the thought of worrying about his reps.

“It’s competition every year. That’s nothing new,” Dent said. “I mean every year it’s 90 guys out here competing for jobs so that’s something I’m always used to. It’s always going to be competition.”

Once the Falcons’ had ruled Weatherspoon out for the entire 2014 season, no active linebacker on the Falcons’ roster had more than two years in the NFL other than Dent.

Despite Dent’s slight advantage in terms of experience, Worrilow and Bartu took the majority of snaps with the first-team. In Dent’s absence on Thursday, rookie Marquis Spruill played alongside Shembo with rookies Brenden Daley and Yawin Smallwood subbing on the third-team.

“We’re always calibrating our roster. We’re always trying to put the most competitive roster in place to give our self the best opportunity to win,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said Thursday. “We appreciate everything that Akeem Dent has done for us over the last three years.”

Dent’s chances to compete have not diminished. Instead, he will do so as a Houston Texan. In a move likely to alleviate any growing pains courtesy of the youth at linebacker, the Falcons also acquired linebacker Tim Dobbins.

Dent left Wednesday’s practice unaware of the changes ahead; joining the Texans will be the first football move out of the state in his career, having played high school (Douglass), college (UGA) and professional football in Georgia until yesterday. Although the move is likely an unfamiliar experience for Dent, the trade itself provided little shock value.

As Smith said: “This is part of the business.”

SCHEDULE

June 22 through 28 – Rookie Symposium, Aurora, Ohio.

July 22  – Rookies report to training camp.

July 23 — First practice of training camp.

PRACTICES WITH TEXANS — Wednesday, August 13 and Thursday, August 14.

THE LATEST FROM OTAS

Sean Weatherspoon suffers season-ending Achilles injury

What’s next for Sean Weaatherspoon?

What’s next for the Falcons at linebacker?

Javier Arenas gets to watch longtime role model

Falcons cut Szczerba, Yoklic

Falcons minicamp is open to the public

VIDEO CORNER

Sean Weatherspoon to miss 2014 season

Matt Ryan on Harry Douglas’ contribution to the offense

Falcons defensive line coach Bryan Cox

Falcons tight end Levine Toilolo

Falcons assistant head coach Terry Robiskie on Devin Hester

Falcons coach Mike Smith on OTAs

 DRAFT CLASS STORIES

Jake Matthews brings strength of family to the Falcons

Ra’Shede Hageman could turn into defensive force for Falcons

Dezmen Southward ready to compete for playing time

Warrick Dunn likes the pick of FSU’s Devonta Freeman

Falcons signed 20 undrafted rookie free agents, 5 from SEC 

Falcons invite 24 players in for tryouts

NFL Draft 2014: ESPN’s Todd McShay on the Falcons’ draft class

VIDEO: Reaction to the Atlanta Falcons’ 2014 draft class

THE ATLANTA FALCONS 2014 DRAFT CLASS

Round 1 / 6 — Jake Matthews, RT, 6-5, 308, Texas A&M

Round 2/37 – Ra’Shede Hageman, DE, 6-6, Minnesota

Round 3/68 – Dezmen Southward, FS, 6-0, 211, Wisconsin

Round 4/103 – Devonta Freeman, RB, 5-8, 206, Florida State

Round 4/139 – Prince Shembo, LB, 6-1, 253 Notre Dame

Round 5/147 – Ricardo Allen, CB, 5-9, 187, Purdue

Round 5/168 – Marquis Spruill, LB, 6-1, 231, Syracuse

Round 7/253 – Yawin Smallwood, LB, 6-2, 246, Connecticut

Round 7/255 – Tyler Starr, LB, 6-4, 250, South Dakota

5 comments
ATL89
ATL89

I was hoping he would have a nice long career with the Falcons, being that he is a hometown guy,  either way he is a Dawg and a Falcon for live, and I wish him the best

JSSN
JSSN

Damn good work Tanya Sichynsky!

Dirtyb8
Dirtyb8

@JSSN what!! I thought you didn't like Dawg fans!

JSSN
JSSN

@Dirtyb8

You know what they say about assumptions! My best friend is a UGA grad. My goddaughter graduates Summa Cum Laude in the Winter commencement. I don't care for ignorant nor arrogant UGA followers like Thomas Brown, BugKiller, and the rest of that bunch. That is just the height of just horrible social support. The young lady did a fine job! 

Dirtyb8
Dirtyb8

@JSSN Talk about arrogant UGA followers. I met way too many to count especially at our rivalry games. You don't know how annoying they can get unless you actually see them drunk!

Trackbacks

  1. […] if only because most figured Dent would be cut, either before of during training camp, not traded. Based on his comments after practice yesterday, it appears Dent may not have seen it […]

  2. […] Getting the last interview with linebacker Akeem Dent before his trade to Houston. Everyone had a feeling he was on his way out of Atlanta, and when I […]