Posted: 9:49 pm Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

Weatherspoon out (Is this happening again?) 

By Jeff Schultz

Sean Weatherspoon, who had been working his way back from previous injuries, is lost for the 2014 season. (AP photo)

Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, who had been working his way back from previous injuries, is lost for the 2014 season. (AP photo)

Last September, when the Falcons were in only the early stages of what would become a calamitous string of injuries, I offered my, “Can’t Afford To Lose” top 10 list of players. The list:  Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez and Steven Jackson on offense; Sean Weatherspoon, Osi Umenyiora, William Moore, Jonathan Babineaux and Asante Samuel on defense. (Looking back, I don’t know if I overrated the aging Samuel before last season or he just couldn’t get healthy.)

This year’s list wouldn’t change much, which means the Falcons just took a big hit — and they didn’t even make it to training camp this time.

Weatherspoon is out. Again. The starting linebacker, who missed nine games in 2013 with foot and knee injuries and never really made an impact, suffered a torn Achilles while working with team trainers in OTAs and is out for the season.

Falcons coach Mike Smith released a statement Tuesday night saying, “During Sean’s run today with our medical staff, he suffered an injury. We sent Sean to the doctor for some additional testing and evaluation and unfortunately the results showed that he ruptured his Achilles tendon. Sean had been working extremely hard to get back on the field, but regrettably he will miss the entire 2014 season. He will have a procedure done in the near future and we expect him to make a full recovery.”

Actually, there is no guarantee of that. A ruptured Achilles can be career-threatening for any athlete. The Falcons lost linebacker-end Kroy Biermann last season to the same injury. It remains to be seen how effective Biermann will be this year, although his return just became that much more crucial.

Weatherspoon has not played up to expectations since the Falcons drafted him in the first round (19th overall) in 2010. But he is one of the defense’s better players, plays in all situations and figured to be a key figure in the team’s increased use of the 3-4 alignment.

Where does general manager Thomas Dimitroff go from here? As I wrote in a column on MyAJC.com, linked here, Dimitroff already faced a pretty significant challenge trying to get this team to the next level. The focus in free agency and the draft was getting bigger and more physical on the offensive and defensive lines.

The linebacking corps was suspect even with Weatherspoon. It includes Biermann, Paul Worrilow, Akeem Dent and Joplo Bartu and Prince Shembo (a fourth-round pick). Umenyiora, an end in the 4-3, projects as a pass-rushing outside linebacker in the 3-4, but we’ll know more in training camp.

One possible name to think about: James Harrison. The former Pittsburgh Steeler certainly would bring an element of toughness to the team, but he’s 36 years old and it might be telling that Cincinnati chose not to sign him after having him on the roster last season. Harrison played 15 games (10 starts) for the Bengals, registering two sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery.

Truth is, Dimitroff isn’t going to find a great player on the street now. At this point, he’ll either have to try to make a trade or wait until the team gets to training camp, evaluate the players and go from there. But this injury hurts an already questionable defense.

On demand, just like Netflix: Recent blogs and columns (free links)
– MyAJC: Braves’ Wren has hardest task of Falcons’ GMs
– Blog: Braves are golden … or doomed (you decide)
– MyAJC: Falcons need Bryan Cox to lead them to ‘the edge’
– Blog: Richt, Pruitt justified in making changes
– Blog: NCAA is still living in a fantasyland
– MyAJC: Kennesaw State’s footprint just got bigger
– Blog: Hawks’ assistant Snyder may get Utah job
– MyAJC: Hawks not as far from top in NBA as thought
– MyAJC: Georgia State’s Miles on SEC’s whines: ‘That’s their problem’
– Blog: SEC coaches don’t want rules skirted (Wait. What?)
– Blog: Braves’ move shouldn’t mean Uggla’s out…yet
– MyAJC: Cobb’s embarrassing handout to Braves hits the finish line
– Blog: Holiday 6-pack: Will Nats close on Braves?
– MyAJC: NCAA can’t reform with so many private agendas
– MyAJC: Bobinski doesn’t want excuse making at Tech
– MyAJC: Braves trade options likely limited
 
34 comments
JONBONBON
JONBONBON

Bring back Jeff George!!!  


DarlaLewis
DarlaLewis

I think I'll let the Falcons worry about their own problems.....

KDinFL
KDinFL

That LB corp is awful!  How do you let a position group get that bad.  There is no belief in defense.  Lets just sling the ball around and try to outscore the other team.  Truly sad.

Whiznot
Whiznot

The Falcons are circling the bowl and about to go down the drain. RIP.

RX
RX

Sorry Mr. Harrison, but we don't need old and slow.

Our present roster is loaded with young, talented LBs and they will more than make up for Sean's absence. Despite being a great team guy, Weatherspoon was never 'all that' on the field. He was a good player but even on his best day he was never great.

His injury will actually hurt him more than it hurts the Falcons. Sean may not be able to get anything out of his Free Agency next year except a one-year 'prove-it' contract.

doggoneit
doggoneit

Lets just have a beer and talk about what is good with the falcons.  It wont;t take long:)

BooBooBear
BooBooBear

I heard of this Teamster that only worked long enough to get another on-job injury and get paid for doing nothing the next two years.  He was able to get another job and live like a king!  www.fakeinjuries.com

RangeRover
RangeRover

Most unfortunate.  Nothing more than an average NFL linebacker but a great person.  Smith & company need his presence on the sidelines this season.  He's a motivator.


JSSN
JSSN

Everyone left in free agency not named Odell Thurman is just as injury prone  as Weatherspoon. Coach 'em up Nolan and Glenn Pires, that's what you're paid to do!

JSSN
JSSN

Seriously Jeff Schultz, they aren't letting James Harrison near young and impressionable LBs! Not this football team that is.

RichardKPE
RichardKPE

Just curious, but since the new CBA which limited the amount of offseason activities and contact for the players, have there been more season ending injuries than in the past?


Anyone know if there are any studies/research on this?

Flacons_go_2-14
Flacons_go_2-14

As I had siad B 4 Witherspoon is a fist roung bust cuz he is injruy prone. Flacons need 2 cut him rite a way so they wont get brund by his contact mony. Next if I were Author Blanks I would fire Tommy Dummytroff cuz he keep makin hugh misteaks in the draft. If he dont the Flacons have no chance of gettin 2 the Superbowel

AlwaysReady
AlwaysReady

Just run the 4-3 defense, problem solved.

JLTee
JLTee

Boy Khalil Mack would have looked good in a Falcons uniform right about now...#wehavenoplaymakersondefense

CardiganBoy
CardiganBoy

Too bad.  Hope Weatherspoon heals up.  Then let somebody else pay his salary next year.  


His career as a Falcon, this guy has seen more of the ceiling in the training room than he has the football field.  He reminds me of Edgeren Hartwell, nicknamed Hurtwell. He was never healthy. 


The Falcons LB corps is weak - has been ever since they let Curtis Lofton walk.  I'm sorry, but Bartu and Warrilaw were free agents for a reason. If one of those guys turns out to be the next Jesse Tuggle, then kudos to Dimitroff and staff.  


Akeem Dent?  We've seen that show before.  And Bierman is coming off an Achilles injury.  YIkes.  


It's gonna take more than one draft to beef up the talent level on this team.  Barring serious injuries at a position already addressed, looks like LB should be penciled in as a top priority for the 2015 draft.


JSSN
JSSN

Not saying a thing, I don't have to. I take no solace in a player being injured. 

PeachtreeBart
PeachtreeBart

Looks like we'll have to package Harry Douglas in a trade for a decent linebacker.  Use Devin Hester at WR.

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

The Falcons have been bleeding key players off the roster since Harvey Dahl left and the replacements generally have not been up to par. This is a multi-year rebuilding project and if the 2014 draft doesn't plug in about four quality starters the emphasis will be on the long end of "multi".

58Supersports
58Supersports

He is done, collect the insurance  and let him go.  Now TD  get busy and get someone that can play.

ftputt
ftputt

I'm sure some UDFA pick up will start in his place and play well.  Happened last year.  Seems like Spoon is just going to have the injury bug.  

AnsweredTHIS
AnsweredTHIS

@Barves_Loss_Agian


Never in my life would I think that this guy would make some sort of sense.............I wont be amazed any longer...........one thing, no need to cut him..........he is hurt you wont save any money if you do. 

Rory_Bellows
Rory_Bellows

@JLTee Are you going to spend all day saying this?


Lets be real. Mack had a stellar career at a small school, playing against small school talent. He only had one game against a big school, which, earned him a first round trophy. I'm cautious about one game wonders.......Vince Young?

scientist2
scientist2

@58Supersports heh 'supersports' -- you can't let a hurt player go --- there are injury settlements but not at his level

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

For what team? Who did you see play well for the Falcons defense? The linebackers as a group were some of the worst I've seen in 50 years. What was the Falcons record again?

JLTee
JLTee

@Rory_Bellows: Darn right I'm going to keep yelling it. Mack can play. I'm glad that the Falcons, Broncos and SF ignored the small school stigma and took a shot on guys names Roddy White, Shannon Sharpe and Jerry Rice. This team has gone cheap on defense far to long and now they are paying the piper. Mack should have been a consideration. However, we were dead set on a Left Tackle. Thus, why not attempt to move up to get him? I'm rooting for Jake. He will be a nice addition. Matt needs protection. But we protected him fairly well with guys named Clabo, McClure, and Dahl who weren't first round talents. We needed veterens for an already young oline and young playmaking talent for the defense.

I feel bad for Mike Nolan. Dimitroff has given him nothing but undrafted F/A, rookies, has beens, injury prone guys and mid rounders to fill out this defense. Sadly, he'll be scapegoated if the Falcons have another losing season.

JSSN
JSSN

@JLTee

Mack wasn't a "one game wonder!" He could have come out the year before and he would have go in low 1st or 2nd round! That big school/small school argument is straw man one. I'd take crazy small school Charles Haley right now in a heart beat!

JLTee
JLTee

@JSSN

You're preaching to the choir. I debunk the idea that he's somewhat limited because he went to Buffalo. He would have come in handy ESPECIALLY considering that Weatherspoon was prone to injury. That's not a knock on Weatherspoon. It's just fact. We had an opportunity to get a playmaker on defense and we didn't get it done.