Falcons LB Brooking could miss up to six weeks

Updated: October 21, 2003, 3:34 PM ET

FLOWERY BRANCH, Georgia - Keith Brooking is the latest in a long line of injuries for the Atlanta Falcons.

The Falcons could be without their star inside linebacker for as long as six weeks with three fractured vertebrae in his lower back.

Although he could miss over a month, Brooking also might be sidelined for only one week. He suffered the injury during last Sunday's 45-17 loss to New Orleans Saints.

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper suffered a similar injury this season and missed two games over a three-week period.

The loss of Brooking - the club's best defensive player - is another blow to a unit that has been decimated by injuries. The club already has lost linebackers Sam Rogers and Will Overstreet to season-ending surgeries and safety Cory Hall has missed five games with a knee injury.

With all the injuries, the Falcons rank last in the NFL in total defense and have surrendered a league-high 220 points.

The Falcons also are still without star quarterback Michael Vick, who has not played since suffering a broken right fibula in the preseason.

After a season-opening win at Dallas, the Falcons (1-6) have dropped their last six games and own the NFL's worst record.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index