FLOWERY BRANCH -- There are a number of past Falcons draft picks that nobody ever wants to see again, spanning from Aundray Bruce to Lamar Holmes and so many knuckleheads in between.
But Sean Weatherspoon is a welcome returning alumnus, even if doesn't make the roster.
If winning a job came down to personality, likability and leadership, Weatherspoon would be a lock to make the team. But after two significant injuries with the Falcons -- Lisfranc (foot) in 2013, a torn Achilles (while working with trainers) in 2014 -- and a lingering hamstring issue with Arizona last season, nobody can be certain what he has left physically. Coach Dan Quinn is determined to increase the speed on his defense, particularly in the linebacker group, and if Weatherspoon makes the team as a weakside or middle linebacker it will be because of his ability to cover, not pass rush.
"I’m not as fast as I used to be -- nobody is after six years," Weatherspoon said. "But I can still do what I'm supposed to do. And I didn't give up no 'tuds' (touchdowns) last year and I played a lot of man to man. I know what to do. I’m comfortable. In OTAs and mini camp, things were fragmented for me. But now I hear a call and I’m on it."
This is all you need to know about where Weatherspoon is in his career. In 2010 as a first-round draft pick, his first contract with the Falcons was worth $17.5 million over five years with $10.5 million guaranteed. His second deal with the team: one year for $1 million with only $150,000 guaranteed. He played for Arizona last season.
"I gotta go get it," he said. "But honestly it's been like that all my career so nothing's changed. If I make the roster but I'm not on the first team, I'll still be grinding. They married me in 2010 (in the draft) so I knew I’d be here five years, unless you really stink it up and then you might be here only two or three. But I figured money really wasn't going to be a factor no matter where I went so I might as well come back to where I'm comfortable."
The Falcons have made expensive mistakes. This was a relative no-risk decision that could pay off.
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