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Falcons glad to have Weatherspoon back at practice

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FLOWERY BRANCH, GA (AP) -

Sean Weatherspoon returned to practice for the Atlanta Falcons after sitting out a week because of a left finger injury.

That is good news for a defense that can't afford to be without him very long.

Weatherspoon, the No. 19 pick in the 2010 draft, is Atlanta's lone elite linebacker. He plays every snap unless he is injured.

Falcons coach Mike Smith says Weatherspoon likely won't make his preseason debut until next week at Tennessee.

Weatherspoon left practice Aug. 5 with a dislocated left finger that had an open wound. He was limited in participation Monday with two fingers taped heavily together under a protective glove.

Without Weatherspoon, Atlanta's linebacker corps might rank among the NFL's least effective. Only Akeem Dent and Stephen Nicholas have substantial game experience.

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