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Falcons linebacker Paul Worrilow welcomes his competition, literally

If nothing else, Paul Worrilow always wants to be viewed as a team player.

So when the Atlanta Falcons drafted two inside linebackers this past weekend, Worrilow, the team's starting middle linebacker and leading tackler the past three seasons, didn't cringe. In fact, he welcomed both Deion Jones and De'Vondre Campbell with open arms via text message.

"Them guys coming in, I'm excited for them," Worrilow said. "It's an awesome opportunity for them to come in here. And I think we have an awesome team. Our linebacker room is second to none in terms of the bond we're developing. And that's something we're taking to the next level to see how close we can get. These guys are a part of it now. I just want to take them in and let them know we're a tight-knit group."

Worrilow didn't want to take all the credit for reaching out to Jones and Campbell, the team's second- and fourth-round draft picks.

"We have a whole linebacker group text message that we have going on, so it's not just me at all," Worrilow said. "It's everybody in our linebacker room. That's something we always keep going, whether it's football-related or we're talking about getting together and doing something, just chopping it up. It's Spoon [Sean Weatherspoon], Philip [Wheeler], LaRoy [Reynolds], [Vic] Beasley, Tyler Starr, and myself. After the draft, we added those two dudes. They are part of the group now. So are the undrafted guys coming in."

Jones was the first one Worrilow had contact with since Jones was drafted Friday. Interestingly enough, it's Jones who is likely to compete with Worrilow for the starting middle linebacker role, while Campbell will compete for a starting spot at the Will. Jones, with much more speed than Worrilow, is the ideal player to help with some of the coverage woes the Falcons have had. But Worrilow, a highly intelligent player who knows the defense, certainly will fight to keep his role.

"Year in and year out, there's competition, man," Worrilow said. "It's just the situation you're always going to be in in the NFL. It doesn't matter. We're trying to take our games to the next level. And that's not done without competition.

"It doesn't change anything. It's not like I'm thinking, 'I'm in the hole, shoot, I've got to turn it on.' That's the situation, so I'm going to keep doing what I've been doing and that's trying to get as good as I can with my game and trying to be the best teammate I can be. Whether that's helping [Jones] get his game right, that's part of it, too for me. That's how I learned."