Falcons linebacker Stephen Nicholas left Saturday’s practice with an undisclosed injury, and yesterday the team gave an update by indicating that Nicholas will miss the remainder of the preseason with an unspecified leg injury. Per Daniel Cox’s report, Falcons head coach Mike Smith expects Nicholas to return for the start of the regular season.
Nicholas is the team’s starting strongside linebacker, although in both preseason games he has worked mainly at weakside linebacker due to the emergence of defensive end Kroy Biermann at strongside and the absence of injured weakside linebacker Sean Weatherspoon. Nicholas is widely considered to be on the roster bubble given his high salary, declining skill, and the emerging young talent at linebacker. In his absence, Joplo Bartu took first team reps on Sunday, and also split starting reps with him briefly during last Thursday’s preseason matchup against the Baltimore Ravens. This injury keeping him out for at least the next two weeks doesn’t enhance his ability to maintain his grip on the roster.