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If the top-flight linebacker is out, the Falcons will plug holes with multiple players.
Mike Smith likes cross-training his players. If a guy can't play defensive end, kick and cook a four-course meal for the team while flying an airplane, what good is he?
That cross-training has allowed the Falcons to (bizarrely) play Joe Hawley as a lineman and a fullback/tight end hybrid, get Kroy Biermann snaps rushing both standing up and down at the line of scrimmage and
So it makes sense that cross-training was Smith's answer when he was asked what would happen if Stephen Nicholas had to sit out Sunday's game, which looks like a distinct possibility at his point. Rather than say something specific, which would likely cause him grievous physical and mental pain, Smith mentioned that the role would be filled by some of those cross-trained players.
This makes a lot of intuitive sense. Mike Peterson is getting older and isn't really an asset in coverage at this point in his career, so the Falcons will want to put some other guys back there who can pursue the Raiders' speedy receivers, tight ends and running backs. That means that guys like Lawrence Sidbury, Kroy Biermann, and Robert James may get some time if the Falcons are moving into nickel and dime packages.
Without the specificity, it's hard to know, but I think you'll get a chance to see some that vaunted positional versatility at work in this one. For the sake of winning this football game, though, let's hope Nicholas is healthy and we don't have to find out.