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NFL Atlanta Falcons

5 Atlanta Falcons Facing Make-or-Break Seasons in 2014

Falcons Facing Make-or-Break Seasons

Atlanta Falcons Linebackers
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Injuries played a big part in the Falcons' underwhelming 2013 season. Star wideouts Julio Jones and Roddy White both missed extended amounts of time, and several other key contributors either missed time or played below expectations. For the Falcons to succeed in 2014, they will need these five players to meet or exceed what is expected from them.

5. Akeem Dent, LB

Akeem Dent Falcons
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

5. Akeem Dent, LB

Akeem Dent Falcons
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Drafted by the Falcons in the third round of the 2011 Draft, Dent has become a regular at middle linebacker. He has played well against the run, but has struggled mightily on pass defense. With the Falcons reportedly moving to a 3-4 defense next season, Dent will need to show that he can improve in pass coverage and adjust to the new scheme.

4. Sam Baker, LT

Sam Baker Falcons
Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

4. Sam Baker, LT

Sam Baker Falcons
Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

In Baker's seven seasons with the Falcons, the left tackle has started 61 games. He struggled at protecting Matt Ryan's blind side earlier in his career, but signed a six-year contract after his best season in 2012. After starting only four games in 2013 due to injuries, Baker will need to prove he can anchor the left side of the line in 2014.

3. Peter Konz, G/C

Peter Konz Falcons
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

3. Peter Konz, G/C

Peter Konz Falcons
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Konz showed promise in 10 starts at guard for the Falcons in 2012. When Todd McClure retired following the 2012 season, Konz struggled trying to replace him at center. The line will be revamped before the 2014 campaign, but Konz will need to improve his run blocking on the interior.

2. Sean Weatherspoon, LB

Sean Weatherspoon Falcons
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

2. Sean Weatherspoon, LB

Sean Weatherspoon Falcons
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The outside linebacker assumed leadership on defense after Curtis Lofton left for the Saints after the 2011 season. Weatherspoon played well in 2012, but missed over half the season last year while dealing with injuries. He'll need to show that he's fully recovered in 2014 and adapt to the 3-4 scheme as well.

1. William Moore, SS

William Moore Falcons
Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

1. William Moore, SS

William Moore Falcons
Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Moore made his reputation as a hard-hitting safety in the Falcons secondary early in his career, but opposing teams began using that aggressiveness against him last season. He was often caught out of position in coverage, and his desire for the big hit often led to missed tackles. As the veteran in the team's young secondary, Moore will need to play smarter in 2014 and step up as a leader.

Walter Bergeson is a writer for Rantsports.com.  Follow him on twitter @WalterBSports or add him to your network on Google