FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. Falcons head coach Mike Smith on Monday ruled out middle linebacker Akeem Dent (concussion), the likely starter at that spot, for Thursday's second preseason game against Cincinnati at the Georgia Dome.
That means that Dent, a second-year player out of the University of Georgia who played almost exclusively on special teams last season, will miss valuable time, as he continues to learn new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan's system.
Smith said that Dent is "feeling better" and that he has participated in meetings. However, he said Dent remains in the first phase of the NFL's concussion protocol after bumping helmets with a Baltimore player while covering a punt in last Thursday's preseason opener. Players must pass through all three phases of the protocol successfully before they can be cleared to play again.
Nonetheless, Smith said the coaching staff is not worried.
"We're not too concerned about where he is," Smith said. "We've got time for him. We want him...