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Prince Shembo Officially Listed As A Starter, May Be Used As Edge Rusher

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The team makes it official two weeks after actually making the change.

Kevin C. Cox

For the last two weeks, Prince Shembo has pulled down the majority of snaps as the starting inside linebacker next to Paul Worrilow. Against the Vikings, Joplo Bartu still got in the game, but on Sunday against the Giants, the second year UDFA managed only two defensive snaps. This is Shembo's job, and that's glaringly obvious.

The Falcons finally made the obvious official, listing Shembo as the starter on the team's latest depth chart. The intense rookie fourth-rounder was moved inside after spending most of his college career at Notre Dame at OLB, where he appears to have hit the learning curve running. For the year thus far, Shembo has 31 tackles, and quite a few special teams snaps along the way. I wouldn't say he's done anything spectacular with his snaps thus far, but there's talent here, Mike Nolan is finally attempting to find creative ways to get him after the quarterback and he's way ahead of your average fourth round rookie thus far. It's fair to say I'm bullish on Shembo.

Oh, those creative ways? Nolan is planning to use Shembo more as an edge rusher, which would get him on the field more often and hopefully juice the pass rush a bit. He'll likely stay as the starting ILB next to Worrilow, but his snap count will increase if he can push others out of the way in this role.

Given the state of the Falcons' linebacking corps—Paul Worrilow has obvious promise but has scuffled at times this year, while Bartu is a reserve, Nate Stupar is a special teamer, Tyler Starr can't get on the field yet and everyone else is a hybrid player—Shembo's going to get every opportunity to prove he belongs. This is the kind of environment where a rookie can learn, grow and yes, make mistakes, and that will likely benefit Shembo over the long haul. In the meantime, we'll hope he grows from a solid player into a very good one.

Bartu's future with the team is less certain. He's getting special teams snaps and probably sticks around as a reserve for a while yet, but chances are he won't be taking a starting role back anytime soon.

Thoughts on Shembo taking the starting gig in earnest?