Veteran LB Tim Dobbins to visit Falcons

The loss of starting linebacker Sean Weatherspoon to a season-ending Achilles tear has forced the Atlanta Falcons to look into a number of veteran players for help.

Tim Dobbins, a former fifth-round draft pick of the San Diego Chargers who last played with the Houston Texans, will visit the Falcons today, according to a league source with knowledge of the situation. The timetable for the visit remains unclear.

Dobbins, 31, has 22 starts in eight seasons with the Chargers, Dolphins, and Texans. The inside linebacker was released by the Texans three games into last season. He had been battling a hamstring injury then but was healthy upon hitting the open market. Dobbins developed a reputation as a special teams standout and took some heat for a viscous hit on Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler back in 2012.

Signing Dobbins wouldn't necessarily mean he would replace Weatherspoon. The Falcons like some of their rookie inside linebackers, including fourth-round pick Prince Shembo and fifth-rounder Marquis Spruill. Shembo made the switch from outside linebacker to inside linebacker during organized team activities, and Spruill is solid in coverage and a possible option in the sub package.

The Falcons have moved to a 3-4 base scheme, with Paul Worrilow and Joplo Bartu currently working as the inside linebackers in such a setup. Worrilow and Shembo might provide the best combination moving forward. Dobbins has experience in the 3-4.

The Falcons reportedly are considering former Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma as well. Vilma's status might come down to how much money he's seeking and how healthy he is coming off a knee injury.