We continue our jersey number countdown to the regular season Sunday. We're now exactly eight weeks away from the Atlanta Falcons opening the 2019 regular season against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
With 56 days to go until the matchup, let's remember the best No. 56 in Falcons history -- linebacker Keith Brooking.
Atlanta selected Brooking No. 12 overall in the 1998 NFL Draft, and he didn't disappoint. He played 11 seasons for the Falcons, appearing in 161 games, including 146 starts.
Brooking contributed off the bench as a nickel linebacker during his rookie season in 1998, helping the Falcons reach the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history. He became a regular starter in 1999, but then missed most of the 2000 season with a sprained foot. Then starting in 2001, he didn't miss another game for the rest of his Falcons tenure.
From 2001-08, he started every game at middle linebacker and helped the Falcons reach the playoffs three times. He posted at least 100 combined tackles in all eight of those seasons. Brooking made the Pro Bowl five straight years from 2001-05, and in 2003, he led the NFL with 126 solo tackles.
Brooking finished his career with the Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos. He played three years in Dallas and then ended his career with the Broncos in 2012. But Brooking made the biggest impact during his career in Atlanta. He remains one of the best middle linebackers in franchise history and should definitely receive consideration for the team's ring of honor down the road.