Weatherspoon is currently on injured reserve with the designation to return and, from all indication, he’s on track to return to the field this week — his first chance at eligibility due to the rules governing the designation to return.
A foot injury in Week 2 against St. Louis sidelined Weatherspoon, and the linebacker has been healing and rehabbing since. He said last week that he felt well enough to return to the field two weeks ago, but couldn’t because of those rules.
Because of a roster exemption given to teams with players on the designated-to-return list, Weatherspoon was able to return to practice only last week without him counting against the 53-man roster. The main focus for him was to work on his condition and get back into playing shape.
Head coach Mike Smith said Weatherspoon’s return is a welcomed positive for a team that could use a boost from its most energetic leader.
“It’ll be a big help to our defense,” Smith said. “Sean, through his play since he’s been here, has earned a leadership role. He is one of our best players. He’s got a great attitude. He’s a guy that can inspire his teammates, so it’ll be good to have him back out on the field.”
Weatherspoon is expect to practice Wednesday when the Falcons begin preparations for Tampa Bay, and his return causes some questions about who the odd man out at the linebacker position will be. Undrafted rookies Paul Worrilow and Joplo Bartu have put together strong seasons and they’re joined by middle linebacker Akeem Dent.
Smith wouldn’t say how that lineup will look Sunday against Tampa Bay as to not give away a competitive advantage.