The Atlanta Falcons announced that free agents in linebacker Courtney Upshaw and offensive guard Ted Larsen are visiting the team today. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport was the first to report the Falcons’ interest in Upshaw earlier today. Larsen’s visit follows up yesterday’s reports that the team was interesting in pursuing additional help at right guard.
Upshaw, 26, has spent the past four seasons playing with the Baltimore Ravens, who selected him with their top selection in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Upshaw was a productive collegiate player at Alabama, collecting 104 tackles, 32.5 tackles for loss and 16.5 sacks during his final two years there. But despite that pass-rushing productivity, Upshaw shined more as a run-defender at the pro level.
Since entering the league, Upshaw has collected just five career sacks playing mostly outside linebacker in Baltimore’s hybrid 4-3/3-4 defensive scheme. That limited pass-rushing ability led to Upshaw seeing decreased playing time in each successive season since entering the league. However he did see a career-high 794 defensive snaps this past year in 2015 thanks to the injury that sidelined veteran Terrell Suggs early in the year. Upshaw responded with his most productive season, recording 51 tackles and career-highs of two sacks, two pass deflections, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.
Upshaw could potentially be deemed a replacement for O’Brien Schofield as the top reserve behind Brooks Reed at strong-side linebacker, the primary role he played the past three years with the Ravens. Additionally the 272-pound Upshaw’s experience playing outside linebacker in a 3-4 also means that he could also get limited reps at defensive end to deepen the Falcons rotation there. He did play end sparingly in sub-packages during his days at Alabama.