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There was a time where Michael Boley was a blossoming star in Atlanta's defense as a strong side linebacker, but he was never able to mesh with Mike Smith's defense and lost his starting spot to Coy Wire late in the season.
Boley bolted for the Giants and now Nicholas is penciled in as his replacement. The speedy third year vet from South Florida has served as the principal back up OLB for the past two seasons and registered 20 tackles as a reserve in 2008.
Atlanta enters 2009 with 33 year old Mike Peterson and 30 year old journeyman Coy Wire as the other Outside Linebackers and neither figure to be part of the long term plans of the Falcons organization.
Atlanta did feel comfortable enough with its OLB rotation that it didn't seriously address the position in the draft, but Nicholas is the only member of the group who figures to be in Atlanta long term.
With a defensive line that should be improved with the addition of Peria Jerry and the return of Trey Lewis on the interior, Nicholas is the key cog to Atlanta's biggest defensive question mark.
Nicholas is a gifted player and Atlanta needs him to come up big or else the young defense could struggle big time.