Akeem Dent says he is ready to step in at middle linebacker for the Atlanta Falcons.
Dent, a third-round draft pick from Georgia last year, overcame concussion symptoms to take 28 snaps in Thursday's preseason win at Miami. It was his longest work in a game situation as Atlanta's starting middle linebacker.
''It was exciting to be out there on the field with my teammates,'' Dent said Sunday. ''Nothing compares to it. You can practice, study in the classroom and watch film, but you've got to be live to really see how you're progressing and what you need to work on.''
Dent had some growing pains. On the Dolphins' first snap from scrimmage, Dent didn't get proper leverage on a block, and Reggie Bush broke off an 18-yard run before free safety Thomas DeCoud made the tackle.
Later in the first quarter, Daniel Thomas ran 9 yards up the middle against Dent before strong safety William Moore made the stop.
For the most part, though, Falcons coach Mike Smith liked what he saw from Dent ...