LOCKOUT LAND — Despite that he’s a free agent, linebacker Mike Peterson is taking part in the Falcons’ unofficial offseason programs.
Like some other players in contract limbo because of the labor dispute, he could elect to remain away from the team and wait until he has a contract.
But Peterson is counting on things working out and returning for his third season with the club.
After a recent seven-on-seven practice, Peterson, the 12-year veteran who started last season at weakside linebacker, chatted with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution about his role, returning to the team and mentoring the younger players on the team.
Q: How has your offseason been going?
A: It’s been going real good. I’ve just been training and spending a lot of time with my boys. I’m just trying to enjoy this rest while I can.
Q: How big of a sacrifice is it to come out here and hold these workouts?
A: It’s what we do. In order to be great at what you do, you have to work at it. That’s the way I was brought up. That’s what I believe in. You’ve got to get the work in. You just can’t turn the switch on when it’s time to play football. This is just a stepping stone to that.
Q: How are you dealing with being in contract limbo?
A: It’s a little rough being in limbo and not knowing. But they’ve expressed that they want me back or whatever. I’m just taking the approach that this is where I want to be. This is exactly where I hope to be. That’s the approach that I’ve been taking this whole offseason.
Q: But you are a free agent and you’re still out here working out. Why?
A: It’s a little awkward feeling. But this is the place that I want to be. I want to be here and I’ve heard they want me here. I have a feeling that they want me back in whatever role that maybe. That’s the approach that I’m taking.
Q: What’s the approach to these practices?
A: We are trying to be a little bit careful. But there is going to be structure. We are not just going to be out there running around and throwing the football around. I think we have enough veteran guys to keep the structure and get some work in at the same time.
Q: How tough is it not being able to communicate with the coaches?
A: It’s been difficult. It’s definitely been different. With the time, you just have to use it in a wise way. Just take care of your body. Stay in shape. Spend time with you kids because there is time that we miss with them during the season. You just want to take advantage of that.
Q: As a leader, how unique is this situation?
A: The young guys will probably tell you that I’ve been checking up on them. I am just trying to make sure that everybody has been working out. We took down notes during last season. Go back and brief yourself on the notes. Stick your head in the playbook. Stay out of trouble and stay out of the news. As a veteran, sometimes I have to play that daddy role or that Uncle Pete role. I think the younger guys accept it and they probably expect it.
Q: What are your thoughts about Cam Newton coming into the NFC South?
A: I love it. He’s still a rookie to me. It doesn’t matter what you did in college. When he gets to Carolina, all of the guys are going to tell him to forget what he did in college. Just wash that away because it doesn’t mean [anything] here in this league.
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog