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Update: Dante Fowler to IR; Who's 'Next Man Up'?

Linebacker Dante Fowler missed the week of practice. He's unable to go, so who is the 'next man up' for the Atlanta Falcons?

Dante Fowler missed Wednesday and Thursday practices with a knee issue ... and now coach Arthur Smith has pronounced him out for Week 7.

UPDATE: The Falcons placed Fowler on IR Friday afternoon. He will miss at least three games. 

What does it mean? It could spell a bigger opportunity for rookie Adetokunbo Ogundeji against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.

Ogundeji was selected in the fifth round by Atlanta out of Notre Dame, and he has seen significant action at outside linebacker for the Falcons this season with five tackles and a sack.

With Fowler unable to go, how good does defensive coordinator Dean Pees feel about Ogundeji filling in on Sunday against the Dolphins?

"Like any rookie, there's a lot to learn," said Pees. "You're seeing everything for the first time. It just takes a while. What we ask of him, and what we've expected, he's living up to expectations."

Pees believes in cross-training his defenders to prevent a gaping hole in any one area should there be an injury.

"Guys gotta step in and maybe be more of a rotation," said Pees when asked how things might change without Fowler. "They all learn from the very beginning. I told you we kind of learn concepts, and everybody has to learn how to do all of it so that doesn't happen. All of a sudden somebody is out, and boy the wheels fall off now you can't run half your stuff."

"The other guys just gotta step in and do the same things we ask Dante to do."

That's not to say Fowler won't be missed.

"Any time a guy's a starter and a he's out, you're going to miss the starter. There's a reason why that guy started over somebody else. But it doesn't really mean the backup guy is a poor player by any means."

"When a guy's out, sure you miss him, but guys gotta step up. It isn't the first time we've ever been without a defensive end in a game."

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Fowler is in the last year of his contract, and he's tied for the team lead with two sacks. To date, he hasn't looked like a player who would be re-signed in 2022, and Ogundeji now will have his chance against Miami on Sunday to stake a claim to the edge rusher position.