Atlanta Falcons: Team counting on Weatherspoon’s play-making ability

060612 FLOWERY BRANCH :  Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon fires up teammates during warmups for team practice at Flowery Branch on Wednesday, June 6, 2012.  CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COMFalcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon fires up teammates during warmups for a practice at Flowery Branch. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Vivlamore reporting from Falcons training camp.

FLOWERY BRANCH – Sean Weatherspoon is on the move – defensively speaking.

The Falcons linebacker is adapting to the new scheme being installed by coordinator Mike Nolan during training camp.

“I’m moving around a lot more, playing in the middle, playing on the outside, doing a lot more things off the edge as well,” Weatherspoon said after a recent practice. “There is definitely a difference. But at the same time, it’s all about going out there and … being efficient in whatever role I’m in.”

Eagles quarterback Michael Vick (7) fumbles the ball, stripped by Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (56). (Jason Getz / jgetz@ajc.com

Eagles quarterback Michael Vick (7) fumbles the ball, stripped by Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (56). (Jason Getz / jgetz@ajc.com

The biggest benefit, said Weatherspoon, will be the chance to chase quarterbacks more frequently. He tied for second on the Falcons last season with four sacks, behind leader John Abraham (9.5). Nolan promises a more aggressive scheme.

“I feel like we blitz a little bit more than we have in the past,” Weatherspoon said. “You can definitely sense that. Everybody is getting a chance to go after the quarterback. That’s what I like about our defense. We are putting in different things.”

Weatherspoon will by key to the Falcons defense with the departure of middle linebacker Curtis Lofton. Weatherspoon had 125 tackles (84 solo, 41 assists) last season, including a team-high 14 tackles for a loss. He was second only to Lofton (159) in tackles.

Weatherspoon, who was named the defensive MVP following last year, was also fourth on the team with eight passes defensed.

“He’s a very good football player,” Nolan said. “He makes plays. …. They said he was a playmaker. I don’t see anything different. I would hope that things would even increase for him as far as playing making.”

Weatherspoon does face a challenge by new cornerback Asante Samuel as the most vocal member of the defense. However, despite entering his third season, Weatherspoon may soon be anointed in the role of defensive leader. With Lofton gone, signed as a free agent by the divisional rival Saints, is still waiting for veteran linebacker Mike Peterson to make it “official.”

“I feel like we have a lot of leaders but I feel like, being a linebacker, it’s kind of your role to be a leader of the defense,” Weatherspoon said. “I’m trying to step up and relish that role and at the same time continue to make plays. I’m trying to be better than what I was last year and help this team out.”

But will he put his stamp on the defense? And when?

“I just try to put my personality on it,” the 24-year-old Weatherspoon said. “I wouldn’t say I stamped it but I’m working toward it. I keep working toward it until I officially become the leader.

“Mike Pete will let me know. We are getting there. There is still work to be done, but we are getting there.”

There may not be much help coming from Lofton. Weatherspoon said the two worked out together early in the offseason but haven’t spoken since Lofton departed.

Weatherspoon and Lofton each had a team-high 12 tackles in the 24-2 playoff loss to the Giants in January. Two years in the NFL and Weatherspoon has tasted two opening-round defeats. He is a part of the Falcons’ frustration having lost three postseason games in four seasons under coach Mike Smith. The taste has been bitter and Weatherspoon said it fueled him during the offseason.

“If you haven’t won a game in the playoffs, and you know what the ultimate goal of the season is for everyone, if you are not shooting for that it’s nothing,” Weatherspoon said. “Everybody says that we haven’t done it yet. We hear it. So we are focused and just trying to get it done.”

- Chris Vivlamore

39 comments Add your comment

GDawg

July 30th, 2012
2:43 pm

First Go Spoon.

Falcons Girl

July 30th, 2012
2:51 pm

Rise up Dirty Birds!!

senior falcon

July 30th, 2012
2:58 pm

Go for the moon–’Spoon.

Bullseye

July 30th, 2012
3:08 pm

What is taking seenthisb4 so long to comment?

Hamp

July 30th, 2012
3:20 pm

I like the way he has given over to the veterans for the stamp. It shows respect for who helped get you there. We all know Mike Pete was the leader and now he is back he is the leader until he hands it over. It is good to see a young fellow understand that and not be an arrogant you know what like so many youngters these days. Spoon will go far and will be a superstar because he understands chain of command even when we clearly know he is the best LB on the team. Still given props to the vets. Priceless!

rollo lawson

July 30th, 2012
3:27 pm

I like this dude a lot! I love his enthusiasm, as well as his play making ability. Spoon, Asante, and Peterson will be the leaders of this defense (with Abe being a silent partner). Leadership is truly lacking on the other side of the ball. Roddy tries, but it needs to come from the QB.

rollo lawson

July 30th, 2012
3:32 pm

This defense will be lights out in 2012!! No question about it. The NFC better look out. Even Dunta is being used differently by Nolan. If Dent can hold up in the middle, which I truly believe he will, and Jerry earns his check in front of him, this defense can be special.

to real

July 30th, 2012
3:33 pm

Spoon wil became a top 5 NFL linebacker this year and tha best weak side linebacker in all tha NFL period this def which was already top 5 or 6 in run def will be a top 10 pass def this year and over all pretty dam good led by spoon tha rest of thq NFL should beware of this guy he is a beast and to dat fool who runs his mouth about our team digg dis ya head coach is gone ya best player on def is gone which was replaced by sum body who cant cover well watch how many times tha ball goes right ova his head plus they loss tracy porter and guard carl nicks run game will sufer and def is weak!!!!!!!

rollo lawson

July 30th, 2012
3:34 pm

Please just stay healthy!!!

Mr. Hankey

July 30th, 2012
3:40 pm

Ready to stop looking forward and start tailgating. I can smell the charcoal and taste the tequilla.

[...] to Original Content From Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog): read more Related Articles Share About Author [...]

hiramsaint

July 30th, 2012
4:18 pm

your top 3 against brees ! i’ll take that bet and watch them get torched just like every year since he’s played for my team

SeenThis B4

July 30th, 2012
4:29 pm

Granted, Weatherspoon is a tough load to handle, but, behind him on the depth roster, there’s absolutely nothing! Which makes that soft underbelly of the falcan’t defense the prime spot to exploit and take what we want!!!

BigRon

July 30th, 2012
4:37 pm

Ya know i like our. Top 3 as well against any top passing offense we are loaded

Chris

July 30th, 2012
5:35 pm

Since Mike Pete is back, they better continue the D Block Segment…… Matter of fact, we need a preseason episode!

to real

July 30th, 2012
5:47 pm

Once again I gotta school yall sanits fans yall got a new DC he’s pretty @ what he does but he like to bring pressure just tha front 4 which is weak tha last I checked its not a person on dat line who can get u 6 or more sacks dat linebacker core without jv is weak and dat back end which wont have any help from dat front line cant cover wide outs like jones and white

Bullseye

July 30th, 2012
5:51 pm

I’m lost without SeenThis B4 comments.

caion2

July 30th, 2012
6:08 pm

.
pleaes no two hand touch on the sideline please. Mr spoon

Mike Nolan

July 30th, 2012
6:38 pm

We don’t need Spoon or any other defender to be the best on their respective position, we just need each player doing their defensive assignment in a hopefully not as predictable and zoft defense as the one we’ve been playing for the past 4 seasons.

To think we lost Lofton is going to kill our defense.. think again .. Lofton made a lot of tackles but missed on a lot of big play opportunities (sacks, ints) I can remember one particular 3rd down play against the giants in which he was closing in on eli but he was just not fast enough .. I think Mike Pete or Dent can tackle, the thing is, will Dent make the big play happen? I hope so!

Go birds!

ernisTbass

July 30th, 2012
6:42 pm

# of tackles is deceiving, it can mean that you can’t get off the field

tjhook

July 30th, 2012
7:32 pm

Seen, I take exception to your commentary about our linebackers. Stephen Nicolas is a very good linebacker. He’s not a physical phenom but he is very versatile and a reliable and sometime outstanding perfomer. Not known for blowing assignments

MaxxFalcon

July 30th, 2012
8:10 pm

Spoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooon!

SeenThisB4

July 30th, 2012
8:44 pm

Tuhook: I hear ya going to go with a lot of two lb sets this year, what does that signal to you? To me, it means no depth at LB, and a soft underbelly….real soft.

johnm

July 30th, 2012
9:18 pm

youre crazy seen we got plenty of linebacker depth and some surprises brewing. And you fooling yourself if you think we soft underneath. Maybe you can call plays for the saints and just give us a couple easy wins. Enjoy ywatching your aints go 4-12 at best

D. Orlando Ledbetter

July 30th, 2012
11:10 pm

ernisTbass — Good point. How are you handling the passing of Andy? Hope you are well my friend.

DR. FALCON

July 31st, 2012
1:00 am

THATS WHY WE DRAFTED WITHERSPOON, IN THE 1ST RD.! ‘SPOON WILL MAKE THE PRO-BOWL THIS YEAR! MARK IT DOWN!

Saints R.E.A.M.

July 31st, 2012
7:02 am

New Offensive coordinator & a New Defensive coordinator…..hmmm….what exactly does Mike Smith coach well????

[...] Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon will be calling the plays on defense this year, but it’s his play-making skills that the team really needs to see in 2012. [Atlanta Journal-Constitution] [...]

I usually just read but....

July 31st, 2012
8:44 am

Saints R.E.A.M. New Offensive coordinator & a New Defensive coordinator…..hmmm….what July31st, 2012 exactly does Mike Smith coach well????
7:02 am
You obviously don’t understand the structure of a professional football team. It’s ok. You may find a blog you can intelligently interact with here “feministe.us/blog/archives/2010/06/24/forbes-top-100-blogs-for-women/”.
bty, REAM?
really? that’s too easy. Besides DOL would kick me out.

Mikey

July 31st, 2012
9:39 am

Spoon is our MAN! This may be his breakout year. However, we will always have 10 other big guns on the field too. They will set the mark for excellence on this new defense. GO FALCONS!

[...] We need every player – from Matt Bosher to Kerry Meier – to live it, learn it, love it. But it’s especially important for Sean Weatherspoon to do [...]

[...] Falcons counting on Sean Weatherspoon’s playmaking ability [...]

[...] Falcons counting on Sean Weatherspoon’s playmaking ability [...]

[...] Falcons counting on Sean Weatherspoon’s playmaking ability [...]

[...] Falcons counting on Sean Weatherspoon’s playmaking ability [...]

[...] Falcons counting on Sean Weatherspoon’s playmaking ability [...]

[...] Falcons counting on Sean Weatherspoon’s playmaking ability [...]

[...] Falcons counting on Sean Weatherspoon’s playmaking ability [...]

[...] Falcons counting on Sean Weatherspoon’s playmaking ability [...]