Q&A: Mike Peterson is a free agent, but hopes to return

Mike Peterson (53) chases down a play. (Phil Skinner / pskinner@ajc.com)

Mike Peterson (53) chases down a play. (Phil Skinner / pskinner@ajc.com)

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.

Linebacker Mike Peterson led the defense through the drills. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/DLedbetter@ajc.com)

Linebacker Mike Peterson led the defense through the drills at a recent seven-on-seven practice.. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/DLedbetter@ajc.com)

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

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41 comments Add your comment

UKFalcon

May 18th, 2011
8:05 am

First reply?

Good to see seasoned pros like Mike taking a lead here. D’OL, as always an interesting read, but with all due respect, I’m thinking photography isn’t your thing!

D. Orlando Ledbetter

May 18th, 2011
8:27 am

UKFalcon — I’m learning about shadows in the photography game. (WorkInProgress!)

UKFalcon

May 18th, 2011
8:42 am

D’OL, I especially like your (slightly blurry) shot of Arthur and Roger on the sidelines, which has been popping up so frequently that it feels like an old friend now. Hope you’re getting a per-print royalty for that one! Seriously though, being on the other side of the pond, your blog has become one of my daily must-reads on all things Falcon. Keep the good stuff coming.

Who do you see as the most likely DE targets in free agency? Is Ray Edwards the answer or has he been made to look good by the players around him?

ASHCAN.

May 18th, 2011
8:53 am

Mike peterson you could very well be in carolina playing with cam if you don’t get signed.

dean

May 18th, 2011
8:54 am

I hope Mike told the DB’s that even when they don’t know what they’re supposed to do at least ACT like they know what they’re supposed to do. I’m referring to some of the body language and looks I saw during the last game the Falcons played.

Steve Padre

May 18th, 2011
9:25 am

dean… The DBs stuff is old. They played great during the regular season. The Falcons DBs were made to look bad by the very hot hand of a very good QB. That guy made million $$ throws.

D man

May 18th, 2011
9:59 am

I think we may need his salary to help land a better cover guy and DE.

dean

May 18th, 2011
10:01 am

Steve,

Agreed. But even when you’re getting torched, don’t look bewildered.

waynester

May 18th, 2011
10:07 am

We’re under no cap pressure and value veteran leadership, so Peterson stays…..

Steve Padre

May 18th, 2011
10:14 am

dean, I think most of the players and us fans had that same look that day. Would love to see the peices that are in place play an injury free year.

hamp

May 18th, 2011
10:14 am

Mo P is great for the locker room he want s to be here and we can get him on the cheap. But what he brings on first and second down coupled withe the leadership is priceless. I is a no brainer to sign him unless he is asking for to much money. which I think he isn’t

hamp

May 18th, 2011
10:22 am

sorry for the mistakes I at work

D-Man

May 18th, 2011
10:25 am

DOL – The rule is always have them face the sun. If the sun is behind them your pic is gonna suffer. Thanks for all the reporting though!!

JMF

May 18th, 2011
10:39 am

Every team needs a Peterson. His value is not just playing but the intangibles he brings. We appreciate you Mike.

Fill Flash

May 18th, 2011
10:59 am

Try using the flash to fill in the shadow. That way you don’t have to reposition your subject. Also, think about taking a photography course.

jj

May 18th, 2011
11:35 am

hey steve padre…an injury free year…the packers would love to play an injury free year

BurningRedBleedingBlack

May 18th, 2011
11:43 am

Mike is a great value to the defense and team, plus he still has some pop to him. Def apperciate having a solid linebacker like Mike.

Fan

May 18th, 2011
12:04 pm

The falcons will re-sign Mike.. Where is SN the other unsigned Linebacker is he working out with the team? That guy is selfish Atlanta and all about the money. Mike is there and he has no contract but he is loyal too Atlanta… Look at Cam Newton he is in FL instead of Carolina sad crap… Our first round pick is volunteering and working out with our team just a great guy. I worked with Jones last week in Alabama American Red Cross and this guy is big big and he is real. He cares about Alabama and he will be great in Atlanta community too

He's a Leader

May 18th, 2011
12:50 pm

Keep Big Mike P. Great work ethic. Great person!

D. Orlando Ledbetter

May 18th, 2011
1:05 pm

D-Man — Thanks for the tip.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

May 18th, 2011
1:07 pm

Fill Flash — I took one decades ago. I was pretty good on my Nikon.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

May 18th, 2011
1:08 pm

D. Orlando Ledbetter

May 18th, 2011
1:13 pm

UKFalcon — Thanks for reading. Yes, Edwards is the main target. Charles Johnson from Carolina could be a possibility. I’ve asked a few folks if Edwards was the real deal or if Jared Allen was chasing people into Edwards. I was told that last season Edwards was the one chasing the attack to Allen. Also, he’s supposed to be a relentless and ornery defender. He has that swagger that some think the defense lacks.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

May 18th, 2011
1:14 pm

waynester — Good point.

joe white

May 18th, 2011
1:53 pm

we will resign him to another contract

Ross

May 18th, 2011
2:20 pm

D-Led – he’d better stay, we need him.

For shadow photography, use the flash to fill in the dark areas, even in bright sunlight.

[...] beat writer D. Orlando Ledbetter had an interesting Q-and-A with linebacker Mike Peterson, who continues to work out with his teammates despite not having a contract. Peterson believes the [...]

dan

May 18th, 2011
2:33 pm

D is there any interest in DE Vernon Gholsten?

Worm

May 18th, 2011
3:18 pm

Thomas Davis would love to be a Falcon…Free agent!

papadawg

May 18th, 2011
3:20 pm

Ignor the defense in the draft now don’t start losing free agent defensive players. Remember 48 points against the Pack

D. Orlando Ledbetter

May 18th, 2011
3:36 pm

dan — He’d be worth a close look and you could get him on the cheap after Sexy Rexy cuts him.

robert

May 18th, 2011
3:53 pm

D-led, I have a good question and i’m surprised i never thought of this, mike peterson live next to coach smith. I remember reading an article on that some time in the past. Can he not even talk to “the guy next door” or can they communicate through his wife. It seems like they would really have to avoid each other in that situation.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

May 18th, 2011
5:28 pm

robert — All employees have been briefed. If they see a player at Publix, they can say hello, but then they need to keep it moving.

Singletary

May 18th, 2011
9:32 pm

It’s tough being a mojo (mobile journalist.) News outlets are putting more and more on the shoe-leather people. Expert in your field, maintain all necessary contacts where they LIKE YOU, video & photographs on demand, and why haven’t you taken that photoshop class, dude? Just a little appreciation for D-Led from a former media person.

SeenThisB4

May 18th, 2011
9:47 pm

Like Led’s photography skills, Petersen’s playing ability is definitely old-school, and well, just plain slow.

Chucktown38

May 19th, 2011
12:50 am

Thats not Peterson in the photo THATS RICK JAMES B ouch

DR. FALCON

May 19th, 2011
12:54 am

WITH THE ADDITION OF AKEEM DENT, THE POTENTIAL IS THERE TO HAVE ONE OF THE TOP 5 LB CORPS IN THE LEAGUE!

hiramsaint

May 19th, 2011
6:54 am

save for the fact they would be failacans which automatically relegates them to mediocrity!

Fill Flash

May 19th, 2011
9:20 am

DOL, maybe hang around Jimmy Cribbs and pick up some pointers.

[...] agent linebacker Mike Peterson is working hard this off-season and is willing to do what it takes to get a new contract from the Atlanta [...]

Hiram - AINT

May 24th, 2011
8:45 am

is anyone else tired of the troll, HiramSaint? The AINTS have one of the most bandwagon fan bases in existence … they make the lakers, celtics, patriots, yankees, and steelers bandwagons look normal.