He may be older and all of his teammates may now call him "Uncle," but Mike Peterson wouldn't want it any other way.
This offseason was a little different for the 13-year veteran. He spent the entirety of it as a rehabbing free agent. He fielded a call or two from different teams checking on his health progress, but otherwise the phone wasn't very active.
Despite the lack of interest in the veteran linebacker, he told himself two things. First, he was going to play again.
"I can't say I was considering it over," Peterson said after Thursday's afternoon practice. "You always have that in the back of your mind, but you've got to keep training and keep rehabbing and wish for the best. Especially when you feel like you can still play a little bit."
And second, he wanted to come back to the Falcons.
"I always wanted to come back here," he said. "I said if there was any chance of me playing again, I definitely wanted it to be here. A lot of the calls were to see how healthy I was or where I was in the rehab."
An injury to Lofa Tatupu that ended his season before it began provided Peterson with his shot to return to Atlanta. One of the unquestioned leaders of the team in recent seasons, the 36-year-old linebacker isn't expected to compete for a starting job at any of the three linebacker positions, but he'll provide depth along with his veteran leadership.