The high expectations for Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon aren’t confined to the fans and the media.
Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan thinks that the third-year linebacker has plenty of room for improvement.
“He’s a good player now, but he could be a lot better than he is,” Nolan tells the team’s official website. “And he will be. No question, because he loves football and he’s exciting to watch and he’s a playmaker, for all those reasons. But he’s done well, but he can still do a lot better. I ’m not just saying that because that’s the blanket statement for people, but as I’m watching him, he’s got a lot of upside, so as much good as you’ve seen, he’s got a lot of good in there going forward.”
Learning Nolan’s defense could delay that process a bit. “Primarily, what I see is a guy who just loves to play, but in the new system, he’s still trying to learn the language and things like that,” Nolan said. “So there’s some way to go, but he’ll find it very friendly and I think he already does see, down the road, how exciting it can be in this system, because a lot of guys have benefited from it. He’s got what it takes to get there.”
The overriding goal is to learn to play it fast, and Nolan realizes that could take a little time, for all of the defense. ‘There’s some things we play faster than other right now because they’ve done them maybe before, but there’s some new things we need to play fast that, in the process, that’s really our goal through all these OTAs and training camp and minicamp,” Nolan said. “To be honest with you, some teams don’t gel until the middle of the season. I’ve been a part of those several times and that’s just the way it is. But as we all know, we’re trying to finish the race good as much as start it, but the finish is the important thing. But I think you can get to that point a lot quicker — what I mean is get to that experience, play fast, play quick — if it’s easy to learn and we’re teaching it right, they’re studying it, learning it and we have good players.”
A first-round pick in 2010, Weatherspoon appeared in 11 games as a rookie, starting only five. Last year, he started all 16 games, racking up 82 tackles, 33 assists and four sacks.