LOCKOUT LAND — After signing his five-year, $15.7 million contract, Sean Weatherspoon, who was selected with the 19th overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft, went out and won a starting spot on the Falcons’ defense as a rookie.
He was off to a good start when he suffered an ankle injury against New Orleans in the third game of the season. He came back in the fifth game against Cleveland and suffered a helmet hit to his knee that slowed him for the rest of the season.
After missing four games, he came back to play in the nickel defense and finished with 42 tackles and one sack.
Weatherspoon, after a recent seven-on-seven passing drill, chatted with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution about his rookie season, his workouts in Philadelphia with former college teammate Jeremy Maclin and his plans for wrecking havoc next season.
Q: What did you all get out of today’s seven-on-seven drills?
A: I think we just got familiar with what we were doing when we left. We just ran through some base stuff. We just did some touching up a little bit. I think we got some pretty good work in. We had all of the LBs here. I know coach (Brian) VanGorder would be happy with that.
Q: How did you all get all of the linebackers here?
A: We even had the youngster (rookie Akeem Dent) out here. I can’t call him a rookie because I’m still a rook until I finish out however many games they say it takes to not be a rookie anymore. He was out here and got some reps in too.
Q: For you, how difficult is it not communicating with the coaches?
A: Last year, we were out here at this time and we were getting it in. To be out here on your own is a lot different. I miss those guys. I do love being around my coaches. Hopefully they can get something done soon so that we can get back to our goal.
Q: Where you surprised with the draft at all?
A: I definitely think we . . . He’s a great receiver who can stretch the field. He’s obviously a great athlete and I look forward to seeing him. I felt like we did a great job getting another linebacker. I think Akeem will come in and contribute. I know we look forward to getting him in. Mr. [Thomas] Dimitroff and [head coach Mike Smith] have done a good job of just putting it together.
Q: Have you seen that the other teams have been working out, too?
A: Yeah, I’ve been getting some flack on Twitter from some of the fans. They’ve been wondering when the Falcons are going to get their camp going. They would say, ‘the guys in New Orleans are getting their camp going. When are we going to get ours going?’ I’m pretty happy to get out here and show them that we are trying to get back to level that we want to reach.
I’ve been working out in Philadelphia with my boy Jeremy Maclin. We’ve been working out a Power Train in South Jersey and it’s been going well. I’ve been working with other linebackers in the league like Jamar Chaney and Moise Fokou. It’s been going pretty well. I’m looking forward to getting back out here full time.
Q: Have you gotten over the playoff loss?
A: Yeah. You definitely have to move on. My hat goes off to Green Bay. They pulled off a miraculous playoff run. The quarterback played out of this world. So we have to take our hats off to those guys, but we are definitely over that. If we do this right, we’ll get a chance to see them again.
Q: What are your thoughts on Cam Newton coming to the NFC South?
A: It’s going to be a tough task. That guy is elusive and he can make a ton of plays. I look forward to going against him. Competitors always want to compete against the best. I think it will be pretty fun going against those guys.
Q: How did you exit interview go after the season?
A: It went well. Me and Coach [Glenn] Pires, we sat down and talked a little bit about how the season went and what he expects from me coming up these next couple of years. He just said that he wanted me to be flying around like I was at the beginning of the season. He told me that when I come back, just be ready to go. That’s something where I’m just trying to stay in shape and make sure that I come back at full speed.
Q: Did he give you some film study things to brush up on?
A: Definitely, I have every game that we played last year on tape. So I’ve been able to critique myself and critique the defense as well and see where I can get better.
Q: Do you hope to move around a little bit more?
A: In college I didn’t do too much of that. When I got here, they moved me around and let me rush off the edge a little bit. I look forward to continuing that and furthering my game to the point where I can stand up on the outside and come off the edge on a few downs. I look forward to trying to be that kind of player.
Q: What did you think of Jacksonville trading up to get former teammate Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert?
A: I think he can come in and compete with David [Garrard] right away. I won’t say he’ll come in and win the job right away, but I think he’ll be fine. I went up to New York to the pre-draft party and I got to see him. He’s going to be fine.
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog