Falcons' Paul Worrilow just trying to grow

No one expected Atlanta Falcons undrafted rookie linebacker Paul Worrilow to start an NFL game this season, let alone lead the team with double-digit tackles in a game.

So when Worrilow posted a career-high 19 tackles in Sunday's 34-10 loss to the Carolina Panthers, it was hard not to notice his effort, even in defeat. He tied Curtis Lofton (2009 vs. New England) for the most tackles in a game by a Falcons player since 1994.

But rather than relishing over his individual showing, the humble Worrilow pointed out the flaws in his performance. Like when he was one of three defenders to miss bringing down Panthers quarterback Cam Newton on a third-and-12 play, resulting in Newton's 23-yard pass to Steve Smith.

"I had a chance to get a sack on one of the ones where Cam got away from me," Worrilow said. "And then I missed the open-field tackle on the checkdown. But after those two, I felt like I had to buckle down, really stick to my technique, get to the ball as much as I could, and get there faster and see the ball better. I think I was able to do that after those two plays."

Worrilow, from Delaware, was a primarily a special-teamer who surpassed Stephen Nicholas as a starting outside linebacker in Week 4. A knee injury set him back a game, but Worrilow returned to the starting lineup for the past three contests.

He has shown a nose for the ball and relentless effort, although would be the first to admit he has much maturing to do. He continues to learn how to become a more effective blitzer.

His tackling, however, shouldn't be an issue, considering the game he had against the Panthers.

"It doesn't make me feel good," Worrilow said. "You play to put yourself in a chance to win the game. We didn't do that. To come out with a loss, we're disappointed. We only think about that."

The Falcons, at 2-6, have to start thinking more about the future, and Worrilow could be a significant part of it. He is one of four defensive rookies to start multiple games at the halfway point of the season. The others are rookie cornerbacks Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford and fellow linebacker Joplo Bartu. The coaching staff also has given more reps to rookie defensive ends Malliciah Goodman and Stansly Maponga.

"I just keep looking at each game as a chance for me to grow," Worrilow said. "And I feel like I am. I'm confident going into every game.

"I'm seeing new things that I'm learning from. That's a big thing for me, as an undrafted guy. Since I'm getting time right now, I'm going to take full advantage and have my game grow."