BIRDLAND — Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, who’s set to enter his third year in the league, is receiving some extremely early Pro Bowl hype.
We checked in with Spoon back in May. CLICK HERE.
Also, it is clear that defensive coordinator Mike Nolan has high expectations for Weatherspoon.
“He’s playing the same position in this defense that he was before, so there are no changes there,” Nolan said. “It’s very familiar to him. The expectation of him is that he continues to play well.”
Weatherspoon figures to have a big role in Nolan’s pressure packages.
“All players like to have their numbers called when you are pressuring and things like that,” Nolan said. “I’d like to think we’ll spread it around a little bit more than most. A lot of that depends how good of a guy he is at doing those things. Spoon is a very good player. I would hope that if he was pressuring or not, he would be making plays.”
Gregg Rosenthal, of NFL.com, is doing an around the league feature before training camps open. He predicted a breakout season for Weatherspoon in 2012.
I’m uncomfortable making Weatherspoon my “Making the Leap” pick for the Falcons, because he’s already made a sizable jump. He’s the leader of this Falcons defense. (Why do you think they let Curtis Lofton walk?) Weatherspoon is already one of the best 4-3 outside linebackers in football. He easily could have made the Pro Bowl last year, but he’s not a big enough name yet.
He’s listed here because he deserves more attention. Those Pro Bowl nods are often built on reputations gained one or two years after a player truly earns recognition. I’m doing my tiny part to elevate Weatherspoon’s reputation now.
Last season, the NFC Pro Bowl outside linebackers were Green Bay’s Clay Matthews, Dallas’ DeMarcus Ware and Chicago’s Lance Briggs. Weatherspoon had more tackles than all of them and more sacks than Briggs, according to NFL.Com stats.
Ware had 58 tackles and 19.5 sacks. Briggs has 105 tackles and no sacks. Matthews has 50 tackles and six sacks. He also had 12 passes defensed and three interceptions.
I don’t think Rosenthal is off the mark at all. But, do you all think, Weatherspoon will make the Pro Bowl in 2012?
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog