TEMPE, Ariz. — The last time Sean Weatherspoon took the field for a regular season NFL game was Dec. 15, 2013. He made one tackle before leaving with a knee injury that cost him the remainder of the year, and then the following offseason he ruptured an Achilles tendon during an OTA practice.
Needless to say, getting out on the field Sunday for the Arizona Cardinals’ Week 1 matchup with the New Orleans Saints carries some added significance for the former Atlanta Falcon.
“It’s fun,” Weatherspoon said. “I thought I’d be preparing for Drew Brees last year Week 1 and I wasn’t. So I’m just taking it one day at a time and coming out here getting from my coach and just continuing to work, get more reps in practice and just having fun with it.
“I’m just going to be preparing to go out there and do whatever they ask me to do on defense. I’m just thankful.”
Weatherspoon signed a one-year contract with the Cardinals with the idea that he could provide the team some impact play at a position of need while rehabilitating his image and reputation in the NFL. It’s not that he is viewed as an unproductive player — he has amassed 336 total tackles, eight sacks, two interceptions, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble in 47 games as a pro — but rather, he has understandably been seen as a guy who just could not stay healthy.
He dealt with a hamstring injury for most of training camp, finally getting on the field and making his preseason debut last week against the Denver Broncos. He played into the third quarter of that game, finishing with three tackles.
Weatherspoon said it felt great to play football again, and for the Cardinals, getting the former first-round pick healthy will add to a linebacker group that enters the season with some question marks.
“It’s great, you see him running around starting to play, he’s getting his confidence back, getting his game legs going, got more and more snaps as the week went on,” defensive coordinator James Bettcher said of what it means to have ‘Spoon back on the field. “All that does is it just helps us in a rotation with guys. Helps with depth overall, and he’s going to have some packages. He’s going to be in there rolling and playing.”
Cardinals coach Bruce Arians, in fact, said Weatherspoon is slated to be a backup in about six packages and a starter in another, meaning he will have a “major role” in the team’s effort Sunday against the Saints.
Weatherspoon, though, is less concerned about how much he will be play than he is about just being able to. It’s been a while.
“I’m ready for whatever,” he said. “That’s it.”
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