FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. --Everything is a blur right now for Sean Weatherspoon, who completed his first professional mini camp practice Friday morning.
But the world passing by at light speed shouldn't throw the first-round draft pick, who admits he only knows one way to play the game -- at 100 mph -- and that playing the game is how he finds peace.
The Jasper, Texas, native certainly seemed at peace while displaying his jets in Friday morning's practice.
He was smiling nearly the entire time.
While the prospect of a 6-foot-1, 239-pound human projectile hurtling toward another human being at 100 mph -- or at least at full speed -- is a scary prospect for the mere mortal, it's fun for him and for his teammates to watch.
In fact, it was one of his teammates, veteran linebacker Mike Peterson who told him to play with a constant green light.
"The young guy can run and I'm pretty sure he can hit," said Peterson, who has become a mentor to Weatherspoonin just a short time.
"He's taken me under his wing and is teaching me technIques and stuff like that," said Weatherspoon, a Missouri graduate, who recorded 413 tackles (240 solo), with 12.5 sacks and 43.5 tackles for loss in 41 games over his four years. "I think that's going to be very helpful for me."
Listening to Peterson is the kind of first step that Falcons Head Coach Mike Smith wants from the rookie.
"The young guys to get with their mentor and there are a lot of guys that fit that role," said Smith. "For Sean, that's Mike Peterson; Coy Wire can also be a mentor."
Weatherspoon takes Peterson's advice very seriously.
"He just said, 'No matter what, just make sure you're always running full speed. Show everybody you can run and always go 100 mph,'" said Weatherspoon. "That's one thing I can take from him because even if you don't know everything you're doing, you can always go hard and give effort."
While Weatherspoon admits there's a lot of information to learn, he refuses to call his initiation into the NFL pressure and has no plans on losing or even hiding his smile.
"That's just me. I've always been that guy, always smiling, always chit-chatting," he said. "I'm just going to come out here and be happy every day because football puts me at peace. I'm happy out here.
"I'm just excited," he added. "Just being out here with all my teammates, living my dream, I'm kind of in shock just being out here. I've got to go out here with a positive attitude each and every day and I feel like that will help me out."
Of course, he'd best not lose or hide Peterson's helmet either. Carrying the veteran's head gear is the Peterson's way of reminding his protege he is still a rookie.
"Right now I'm carrying his helmet," Weatherspoon said, with a laugh. "So I've got to go in there and give him his helmet and then go down to my locker room."
NOTES FROM MINI CAMP:**
LAYING IT ON THE LION:Weatherspoon has already earned a nickname, courtesy of veteran Peterson. "The young guy can run and I'm pretty sure he can hit. I'm calling him 'The Baby Lion.' Right now I'm 'The Daddy Lion,'" said Peterson. Weatherspoon is okay with the nickname. "I'll take it," he said with a laugh. "I've got to get my mane like his." * OH ATLANTA (PART I): Think cornerback Dunta Robinson isn't happy to be back in Atlanta? He couldn't wait to put on the uniform of his hometown team. "I think I put my jersey on a lot earlier than everybody else today. I'm sitting in meetings with my practice jersey on. Everybody's looking at me kinda weird. It felt good to run around with my new teammates. Overall, it was a good morning for me." * OH ATLANTA (PART II):Robinson was happy to be home for another reason. The weather. Remember, he played his first five pro seasons with the Houston Texans. "[The weather's] a lot worse. It's way more humid. I'm enjoying this little breeze I'm getting right here. It's way more humid in Houston." For the record, at 2:30 p.m., Atlanta's temperature was 85 degrees and felt like 86. In Houston it was 90 degrees and felt like 97. * BEATING THE HEAT:Several players, including wide receiver Brian Finneran did not participate in the morning practice. That was by design. The older players will only be practicing once a day during mini-camp. "We actually have a plan for the guys that are over 30," said Smith. "You'll see a different group of 30-year-olds, or 'the grey beards' without helmets this afternoon. When you've been in the league as long as they have, they deserve the opportunity to get as much rest and recovery time between the end of the season and training camp." * RETURN OF THE BURNER:Smith was very pleased to see Michael Turner's performance in the morning practice. Turner was limited to 22 carries over the final eight games of last season and was inactive for five of them due to a right high-ankle sprain: "It was great to see him back. He's in outstanding shape, he reported in at a very good weight, where we wanted him to be and I think he moved around very well for the first day back. A big thing for us is guys who are coming back from or nursing injuries in the off-season to see how they handle back-to-back practices or back-to-back days." * THE WAITING IS THE HARDEST PART:It didn't Matt Ryan long to earn Robinson's respect. "I'm very impressed," said Robinson of the Falcons' starting quarterback, whom he'd never met until a few weeks ago. "I've never seen a quarterback put in as much work as he has these past six weeks. It's amazing to see the leader of the team work as hard as he did. It makes you work even harder." They've even got their own friendly rivalry going. "It's one of those deals, we don't talk about it, but I'm watching him, he's watching me to see who's going to be the last one out of the weight room," he said with a laugh. "It's definitely a lot of fun going against a guy as competitive as he is."
MORE ON MINI CAMP:**
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