FLOWERY BRANCH — A key reason the Atlanta Falcons are not going to sign free agent linebacker Jonathan Vilma is that they are extremely pleased with the development of Paul Worrilow.
Worrilow led the team in tackles last year as an undrafted, rookie free agent linebacker from Delaware. He is growing steadily over the offseason.
“I’m a lot more comfortable,” Worrilow said. “I spend almost every day in here.”
With linebacker Sean Weatherspoon sustaining a season-ending Achilles tendon injury during last week’s organized team activities, the Falcons are still checking out the veteran free agent market.
Vilma, a former New Orleans Saints star, was in for a workout Wednesday, but the team said it would not sign him.
The team also worked out Tim Dobbins and Nick Barnett last week.
Vilma, 32, is 6-foot-1, 230 pounds and a 10-year veteran. He is a three-time Pro Bowler, but his marketability is hurt by health concerns. Vilma played only one game last season because of a knee injury.
Vilma was a first-round pick by the Jets in 2004, and he played four years in New York before moving to New Orleans. He started 121 games over his NFL career, which was marred by his role in the Saints’ bounty scandal.
Another linebacker who may be helpful at some point is Pat Angerer, who played for the Indianapolis Colts last year but is unrestricted free agent. Angerer, 27, was a second-round pick by the Colts in 2010, and he played in 54 games and made 39 starts for Indianapolis. He is reported to be four or five weeks away from being healthy after missing the end of last season due to knee surgery.
With Weatherspoon out, Worrilow and Joplo Bartu are taking snaps with the first-team defense.
“It’s going well,” Worrilow said. “We’ve put in a lot over these OTAs. We’ve made some adjustments, and everything is coming together well.”
NOTES: S William Moore was excused from the second day of minicamp for personal reasons. Second-year S Kemal Ishmael took Moore’s place with the first-team unit. … With the retirement of C Todd McClure, the Falcons had a leadership void along the offensive line last season. The team hopes LT Sam Baker and LG Justin Blalock can fill that void this season. “The older guys are going to be leading by example,” Blalock said. “We try to do things the right way so that everyone else can see and try to set a standard for what is going to be tolerated in the room.”