Sean Weatherspoon listed as questionable

December, 21, 2013
12/21/13
1:20
PM ET
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons starting linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, who injured his right knee in last Sunday’s 27-26 win over the Washington Redskins, is questionable for Monday night’s game against the San Francisco 49ers.

Weatherspoon has missed seven games this season with a Lisfranc foot sprain. His latest injury forced him to miss practice all week, which seems likely to keep him from playing against the 49ers.

Weatherspoon exited last Sunday’s game immediately after teammate William Moore’s third-quarter interception.

If Weatherspooon is unable to go against the 49ers, Stephen Nicholas would start at linebacker next to rookies Paul Worrilow and Joplo Bartu, provided the Falcons begin the game in their base defense.

Nicholas, who lost his starting job earlier in the season, played well after replacing Weatherspoon last week. He finished with five tackles and a forced fumble in the red zone despite playing just seven defensive snaps.

"That’s what it’s about: being productive,’’ Nicholas said. "But I’m just going out there and doing my job. That’s all.’’

Nicholas took some criticism after last season’s NFC Championship Game for his defense against speedy tight end Vernon Davis as well as a crucial second-quarter unnecessary roughness penalty. However, his tackling could be a key factor Monday night as the Falcons try to contain running back Frank Gore.

"They understand what I can do and what I bring to this team,’’ said Nicholas, the team’s leading tackler in 2012.

In other injury news, rookie free safety Zeke Motta, who suffered a neck injury during Wednesday’s practice, was ruled out for Monday night, as was rookie wide receiver Darius Johnson (high-ankle sprain). Being without Motta leaves rookie Kemal Ishmael as the backup safety behind starters Thomas DeCoud and Moore.

DeCoud is set to play after missing last week with a concussion.

Tight end Tony Gonzalez (toe) is listed as questionable but is expected to play. And running back/special-teamer Antone Smith, who missed last week’s game with a knee injury, is listed as questionable but practiced the past two days.

Vaughn McClure

ESPN Atlanta Falcons reporter

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