In his second season in the NFL, Sean Weatherspoon is having a strong campaign.
After going through an injury-marred rookie season, Weatherspoon is fulfilling the promise that led to the Falcons selecting him with the 19th pick of the 2010 draft. He's second on the team with 109 tackles and passes defensed with seven. He also has three sacks.
His numbers indicate that he's playing the run, rushing the passer and playing well in pass coverage.
"Sean Weatherspoon, the young guy out of Missouri, is a dynamic guy," Carolina coach Ron Rivera said. "He's a playmaker. He's a physical guy that plays downhill. He plays good with his hands. He's got enough athletic ability to make plays for them."
Last season, Weatherspoon landed the starting strong-side linebacker spot, but suffered an ankle injury against New Orleans in the third game. He came back two games later against Cleveland and took a helmet shot to his knee that knocked him out of the next four games.
When he returned, his mobility was limited, but he completed the season. He finished with 52 tackles, a sack and knocked down one pass.
After the lockout, Weatherspoon was moved to weak-side linebacker in order to take better advantage of his speed and ability to play in space.
"It's just starting to come together," Weatherspoon said.
Weatherspoon is a part of a defense that is giving up 90 yards rushing per game, which ranks third in the league.
"It's pretty much a pride thing," Weatherspoon said. "In our defense, when they do have a good run against us, it's pretty evident that we understand what happened and who's supposed to be in that gap. That's about being accountable. You definitely want to always be accountable to your teammates, so you have to play with a chip on your shoulder.
"You definitely don't want anybody to run the ball on you. As a linebacker, that's what you're taught first. Get down hill and hit something. That's pretty natural there."