Sean Weatherspoon is growing up before our very eyes.
After a rookie season that saw the 2010 first-round pick win hearts with his smile and enthusiasm, but disappoint some when injuries kept him off the field for five games, 'Spoon is putting things together in his second season.
Surrounded by leadership at the linebacker position for the Falcons, Weatherspoon isn't asked to do more than make plays and so far this season he's a tackling machine. Currently the linebacker is tied for second in the NFL with 31 tackles. On the weakside this season, after playing the strong side last year, the Falcons are able to better utilize Weatherspoon's athletic ability and it's evident by watching him fly around the field.
The staff knows their young linebacker will still make mistakes, look no further than his missed tackle of Bears running back Matt Forte in the first game of the season, but the young man is smart enough to not make the same mistake twice. As he learns on the job, he's not just making tackles, he's making plays.
So far this season he has two tackles for loss in two of the three games thus far. It's only a matter of time before everyone starts to see him making the kind of plays that got him to the league while in college at Missouri.
Weatherspoon's getting some recognition from one place however. The website ProFootballFocus says the linebacker is impressing. He's featured in their Re-Focused article on the Falcons-Bucs game and while some of the reading is ugly regarding the game, they wrote glowingly about 'Spoon.
After what they called a disappointing rookie season, they grade Weatherspoon out, through three games, as one of the better linebackers in the league, rating especially high against the run.
"For the third straight week Weatherspoon graded positively as a run defender showing real ability both against blockers coming downhill and in pursuit," PFF wrote.
Spend much time around Weatherspoon in the locker room and it's obvious he's getting comfortable with his place on the team and within the game. He speaks openly and honestly with the media about his play and that of his teammates, but always does so with a smile. He's quickly becoming a favorite from the quote collectors.
As he continues to find his place within the scheme and adjust to the game his plays will come. The talent is there and he's committed to being great. He's also got a tackle on special teams this season, which speaks to the fact that he's a team player.
Things are looking up for 'Spoon and as the season progresses I think fans will get used to seeing his signature spoon-feeding celebration after making a big play.