Sean Weatherspoon joined the Falcons in 2010 as a highly-touted prospect, one who was tasked with become a defensive leader on a deep, talented club. Now that he's returned following a brief hiatus, the veteran linebacker understands his role—and thus his approach—will be different this time around.
"I don't expect any kind of role," he said Friday after signing a one-year deal at Flowery Branch.
"I'm just pumped to do something. I'm not hung up on expectations. I have no expectations. I just want to be coached at the highest level, and I know that will bring the best out of me. … You never know what's going to happen, so you just have to take it one day at a time.
"I was open to this, and I kind of had a feeling this might happen. My heart is in that Georgia Dome."
Weatherspoon's NFL career has been hampered by injuries—including an Achilles rupture that forced him to sit out all of 2014 and, ultimately, brought an end to his first stint in Atlanta. Because of that complication and several other ailments, the University of Missouri alum had to miss 25 of 32 games from 2013-14.
Matters didn't get a whole lot easier in 2015. Weatherspoon inked a one-year contract with the Arizona Cardinals last summer, but a pulled hamstring in training camp put him behind. He ended up playing just 128 regular-season snaps for Arizona.
Health remains a concern when it comes to Weatherspoon, but he believes he's doing what it takes to stay sharp physically when September arrives.
"I've been busting my tail running, working, lifting. I know my body—it feels great," he said. "I'm just looking forward to coming out here and just doing what I can to help the team."
A big reason why Weatherspoon decided to come back to the Falcons is the defensive system Dan Quinn has installed. Atlanta's D uses Cover 3 the majority of the time, and that happens to be Weatherspoon's favorite coverage.
After talking with Quinn and some of the other coaches, and after walking around the facilities and seeing a bunch of familiar faces, he knew coming back to his old home was the right move.
"To be coached by these guys, who have really perfected this scheme, it's going to be great for me to learn from them to take my knowledge to another level," said Weatherspoon.
"I'm working, so that's what it's going to be about for me, just trying to bring whatever I can to help Atlanta do what Atlanta needs to do, because this city needs a championship. And that's what it comes down to. And I know they have the people in the building that can do it, so that's why it make it a very comfortable decision for me."