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Thursday, April 24, 2014
Weatherspoon's status worth monitoring

By Vaughn McClure

Atlanta Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon said he's still rehabbing the right knee he injured in a Dec. 15 win over the Washington Redskins last season. He missed the last two games of the season due the injury.

Weatherspoon, who was in the weight room with teammates for the start of the offseason workout program this week, told ESPN.com he did not have surgery on the knee, which could indicate some degree of medial collateral ligament sprain. He said the only therapy he has received over the last several months was platelet rich plasma (PRP) treatment. PRP treatment involves using a patient’s own blood to treat muscle, ligament or tendon injuries. It involves spinning blood to separate the platelets and injecting them into the injured area.

When he addressed the  media on Wednesday, Weatherspoon revealed he's not 100 percent healthy, but didn't sound overly concerned.

``I'm feeling good. It's been a process,'' Weatherspoon said. ``The season was rough. I've been feeling pretty good, though. I've been working with the training staff non-stop, about four or five days a week. Just been getting after it, doing whatever I can do to get my body feeling good so I can, you know, get back to where I'm feeling where I'm at my top [form].  ... I feel, I would say, probably 80 percent. I'm working hard and just looking forward to getting back to 100 [percent].''

Weatherspoon said it's unclear when he'll get clearance for full activity. Organized team activities start on May 27. Right now, during Phase I of offseason workouts, there are only "dead ball'' activities allowed on the field. Phase II is individual drill work for three weeks, then Phase III includes organized team activities.

``I really don't know my schedule,''  Weatherspoon said. ``They're kind of easing me in [the training staff]. ...  I'm on them every day trying to figure out when it's going to be; when will I get a chance to go out there and mix it up with the guys. But they have a plan and they're sticking to it. I've talked to my agent and my people. I've talked to my head coach [Mike Smith]. And they all seem to be on board. And I'm just thankful that they're easing me in and letting me get right.''

The Falcons are proceeding with caution as well with top receiver Julio Jones, who will be limited this offseason. But Jones is coming off season-ending foot surgery.

The fact that Weatherspoon's injury didn't require surgery yet has lingered this long makes his status worth monitoring moving forward. The former first-round pick from Missouri is entering a contract year and surely wants to be fully healthy to perform at the highest level. Last year, he played in just seven games after first suffering a Lisfranc foot sprain that put him on short-term IR after Week 2.  Weatherspoon missed seven games due to the foot injury.

It's was interesting to hear Weatherspoon mention having a conversation with draft prospect Ryan Shazier when Shazier visited the facility this week. The Ohio State linebacker is one of the top prospects in the draft and a projected first-rounder. Although the Falcons likely would target Shazier only in a trade-down scenario, the fact that they are looking into him emphasizes the need to add depth at linebacker and prepare for the future.