Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith is having a tough time keeping his starting middle linebacker healthy.
After losing Curtis Lofton to free agency in the spring, the Falcons signed Lofa Tatupu to replace him, but a torn pectoral muscle ended his season before the start of training camp.
Now Atlanta must temporarily replace second-year linebacker Akeem Dent, who sustained a concussion in the 31-17 loss to Baltimore and will miss next week's exhibition against Cincinnati.
With 14th-year veteran Mike Peterson taking Dent's spot Saturday in practice, Smith didn't seem concerned about the situation at middle linebacker, but the specter of injuries is one that haunts every NFL team.
Smith has made it a stated goal in camp and preseason games that the Falcons will do everything in their control to avoid injuries.
''You have to get your guys prepared, and it's a fine line,'' Smith said. ''You're always walking that fine line, in terms of the right amount of work, the right amount of con...