Stupar steps up at strongside linebacker

FLOWERY BRANCH – Falcons linebacker Nate Stupar has turned in some solid play over the past two games at strongside linebacker.

After not playing from scrimmage against the Eagles, he played 32 percent of the snaps against the Giants and 28 percent against Dallas.

“The one interception that put our offense in the redzone really, what happened was, we were able to flush the quarterback out of the pocket and Stu was able to get the hit on him, which created the interception,” defensive coordinator Richard Smith said. “That was a great play.”

With the injury to Brooks Reed, the Falcons moved Stupar to strongside linebacker and had him split the snaps with O’Brien Schofield.

“There was another good play where they pulled the big tackle,” Smith said. “Then he took on the tackle, shed him. Took on the fullback, got off the block and made a great tackle for loss. So, he’s coming along. We are really, really pleased with what he’s been doing at the (strongside) position.”

Stupar, 27, has been an inside linebacker for the Falcons and played primarily on special teams in 2014. He has played in 30 NFL games, mostly as a special teamer, and has spent time with the Raiders, Eagles, 49ers and Jaguars.

He was fine with the move to outside linebacker.

“I feel like it comes really natural to me,” Stupar said. “I played defensive end in high school so there is some carryover. I was playing that my whole life until college.”

Stupar, who played at Penn State, may fade back into a reserve role with Reed getting closer to returning from groin surgery.

“I’m just ready for anything,” Stupar said “I can play middle, weakside or strongside. I’m ready for whenever they need me. I’m a core special teamer. When they call upon me, I’ll be ready.”