FLOWERY BRANCH -- In his 11 seasons in the NFL, Falcons linebacker Mike Peterson has been a tackling machine.
With just five more tackles, he'll reach 1,500 for his career.
Despite the Falcons being eliminated from the playoffs the night before, Peterson responded last Sunday against the New York Jets with 15 tackles, which led the team.
He says he knew that the younger players would be looking to him for leadership and how to handle a difficult situation. He kept his foot on the pedal and and the young players followed.
In a conversation with the AJC, Peterson, who starred at the University of Florida, discusses chasing the Super Bowl ring, his 2-year-old son and how much longer he wants to play in the NFL.
Q: How has the year been so far? I know you all wanted to make the playoffs.
A: It's been an up-and-down year. I think that's obvious from looking at our schedule, but I think as a unit, we've gotten better in certain areas. The arrow is pointing up.
Q: Has it been what you anticipated in signing here?
A: At times, it has. I expected to be getting ready for the playoffs. Pretty much all 32 teams expected that. But as far as the guys and the work ethic, the young guys putting some time in, everything from the coaches and the city, it's probably even more than I expected.
Q: How has it been adjusting to the new city? Been able to enjoy some things outside of football?
A: It's been great. When the guys in the locker room, a lot of the older guys and the young guys have accepted me. And respect for what you've done in the league makes my transition that much easier.
Q: What do you do for fun and relaxation on your off-day?
A: Man, I'm with my son. I've got a 2-year-old.
Q: What do 2-year-olds like to do? Are they still into Sesame Street?
A: He wants to do ball. Everything is about the ball -- baseball and football.
Q: You seem to slide into that leadership role rather easily?
A: When I was signed, that was one of the things that Coach (Mike) Smith talked about, coming in here and being that leader as well as coming in here and making plays for the defense. I said the whole time, that wasn't anything that was out of character for me. He wasn't asking me to do anything that I wasn't familiar with.
Q: How much longer do your want to play?
A: Man, I'm chasing the ring now. I'm going to play as long as I can chase this ring. Until I can't chase it no more, I guess, that will be it.
Q: Have you been keeping up with [younger brother and Chicago Bears running back] Adrian [Peterson] this season?
A: Oh, yeah. We talk all the time. Especially on the off-days. He's doing well. Things didn't go the way he wanted them to go for him as well as for the rest of the team. He's healthy now. That's always No. 1, when you are trying to finish up the season healthy.
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