The Atlanta Falcons are making new plans at middle linebacker after losing Lofa Tatupu for the season with a chest muscle injury.
The Falcons reported Wednesday for Thursday's first day of training camp with second-year player Akeem Dent suddenly cast as the favorite to replace Curtis Lofton in the middle of the defense. Dent spent most of his rookie season on special teams.
Lofton, who led the team in tackles the last three years, signed with New Orleans.
Tatupu, the former Pro Bowl player with Seattle who did not play last season, was expected to compete with Dent. Coach Mike Smith said Tuesday Tatupu will have season-ending surgery after suffering the pectoral injury in a workout.
Another veteran linebacker, 36-year-old Mike Peterson, re-signed with the Falcons on Monday.