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Falcons hope to get LB Dent back Sunday

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FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP)

Atlanta Falcons linebacker Akeem Dent returned to practice for the first time since sustaining a concussion, and the team hopes he'll be fully cleared by Sunday.

Dent was injured in the Falcons' first preseason game against Baltimore. He missed the next contest against Cincinnati and had not practiced until Saturday, when he dressed and took part in non-contact drills.

Coach Mike Smith said Dent only had to pass one more step in the league-mandated program that deals with head injuries.

''Hopefully he'll be cleared tonight and he'll be back at full participation in practice,'' Smith said.

The Falcons are eager to get Dent back. He is expected to take over as the starting middle linebacker in place of Curtis Lofton, who signed with division rival New Orleans.

Also Saturday, cornerback Darrin Walls couldn't finish practice because of what appeared to be a minor quadriceps injury. He watched the rest of the 2 1/2-hour workout from the sideline.

Also, receiver Kevin Cone took a big hit late in the day from safety Shann Schillinger. Cone tried to get up, wobbled and dropped to the field as the training staff rushed out to assist him.

But, a short time later, Cone was able to get up on his own and seemed OK leaving the field.

One player didn't make it to practice at all. The team announced an injury settlement with receiver Michael Calvin, who stood out during a scrimmage in early August but really had no shot of making the roster.

''At this time of the year, there's lots of moving parts in terms of the roster,'' Smith said. ''We've got to start making those moves.''

Undrafted rookie Dominique Davis is making a strong bid to make the team as the third-string quarterback behind Matt Ryan and top backup Chris Redman. Davis is contending with fourth-year player John Parker Wilson.

''We've got to let the play on the field be the evaluator,'' Smith said. ''It's a matter of who plays the best.''

The Falcons will break camp after a short practice Sunday morning, which means players will be able to go home each night rather than stay in dorms on the grounds of the team's suburban training complex.

Atlanta (0-2) travels to Miami for its next preseason game on Friday.

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Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963

Tagged: Falcons, Saints, Akeem Dent, Mike Smith, Kevin Cone

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