Falcons’ shuffling the deck at linebacker


The Falcons, who are getting really thin at the linebacker position, welcomed former Green Bay Packer A.J. Hawk into the fold on Wednesday.

Hawk, who had been working out in Columbus, Ohio, is receiving a crash course on the Falcons’ defense and will be active when they play the Broncos at 4:05 p.m. Sunday in Denver.

Starting middle linebacker Deion Jones has an ankle injury. Sean Weatherspoon (ruptured right Achilles) was placed on injured reserve. De’Vondre Campbell (ankle) and Paul Worrilow (groin) are also injured.

If Jones can’t play, LaRoy Reynolds will replace him. Veteran Philip Wheeler will take over at the weakside position.

Hawk, who played nine seasons in Green Bay and one in Cincinnati, will back up both the middle and weakside spots.

“Probably the pass coverage is the difference,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. “He’s played three-deep. Each team or system may have some small nuances, but that’s what was at hand to help get him ready. Very bright guy. Very good football mind. Now, it’s about learning the concepts and getting some reps this week to bring him up to speed as fast as we can.”

Hawk was ready to get to work.

“The reps that I do get in practice, I have to try to make the most of them for sure,” said Hawk, who was the fifth player taken overall in the 2006 NFL draft. “I’m trying to lean on the other guys and ask them questions. I have to try to see the defense through their eyes.”

Falcons defensive backs coach Marquand Manuel played with Hawk in Green Bay back in 2006.

“I’ve already been in his ear asking him a bunch of stuff,” Hawk said. “I feel great physically. Mentally, it’s the main thing to figure out whatever role I might have, to try to perfect that.”

Hawk, 32, has played in 158 games with 147 starts in the NFL. He has 644 solo tackles and 306 assists over his career.

Hawk also has 20 sacks, three forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries and nine interceptions.

He believes he can fit into the Falcons’ scheme.

“I’ve played 4-3, 3-4, back and forth between different positions and schemes over my years,” Hawk said. “Anything that you can have some (recall) on, it could be from six or seven years ago, hopefully that’s something that I can use to my advantage.”

Hawk was on Green Bay’s Super Bowl XLV winning team. He doesn’t plan to share many war stories with his new teammates.

“I don’t ever claim to be the guy who has all of the answers,” Hawk said. “I don’t want to be … .everyone hates the old guy who comes in and wants to give advice. I’m not going to be that dude, I promise. I’m going to asking these guys a lot of questions.”


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