Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon vocally makes his presence known this offseason
During 11-on-11 work near the end of a recent OTA, Sean Weatherspoon would not shut up.
The linebacker led the defense in an impromptu dance as the unit prepared to play their final series of the day. He yapped at the offense as they broke the huddle. He screamed in celebration when a good defensive play was made, and then let everyone on offense know after he made the interception that ended the first-unit work.
It was not an uncommon scene. This is Weatherspoon every day on the practice field, and eventually, will be same guy in games. The Cardinals signed him as a free agent because they needed a talented inside linebacker. But his impact goes beyond being in the right place to make a tackle.
"I feel like we have one of the best jobs in the world, so when we're out there, I feel like we should be having fun,"
Weatherspoon said. "Sometimes you're tired, sometimes you don't want to be out there. But you have to find it somewhere and I think that I can be a bright spot to help other guys get better in practice, and not just get through practice."
Weatherspoon wasn't always sure over the last couple of years if he'd still have this job – another reason he cherishes the chance to loudly narrate practice time. He has played only seven games the past two seasons because of injuries, including a lost 2014 after rupturing his Achilles last summer with the Falcons.
He knows the injuries came during two of the most crucial years of his career in terms of making money. Weatherspoon signed a one-year, $3.85 million contract, hoping to parlay a comeback season this year into many more dollars. But having spent only a few months in Arizona, he said he'd like that next contract to be with the Cardinals.
Life is good. Weatherspoon's first child, a daughter, was just born. He's engaged to be married. And his Achilles has given him no trouble this offseason, allowing Weatherspoon to roam around, not only to make plays but also to let everyone know about it.
"Sean has worked his butt off," quarterback Carson Palmer said. "He's come in with some nagging injuries that he's had to deal with and young guys see that (work). It'd be different if he came in, you heard him talk and you saw him gone. But you hear him talk on the field, you hear him talk in the weight room, you hear him talk in the training room. He's always here working, which is how you have to do it if you talk like that."
Weatherspoon admits his injuries darkened him for a while. Fighting through those times are part of every player's journey back from a serious injury – ask Tyrann Mathieu – and that's as much of a hurdle as rehabbing an actual body part.
"If you look at it in a negative way, it'll weigh down on you," he said. "Your days won't go by the same, and you will have some dark days and dark nights, some long nights. I've been there. I'm human. We all think, 'What if.' "
He doesn't think that way anymore. His daughter gives him a "new purpose" in playing, driving him to get deep into his playbook at night when the baby goes down. A good year means a new deal and a way to continue to provide for his child and future wife.
Those are the thoughts that keep the smile constantly on Weatherspoon's face.
Defensive end Frostee Rucker, who called Weatherspoon's exuberance a "joy," said he had a couple of Falcons vets let him know about Weatherspoon's personality.
"They said, 'Watch, he'll never shut up,' " Rucker said with a smile. "But it's OK. Some guys need that stuff. I don't particularly, but I don't mind. Be yourself. That's all you can be."
Weatherspoon isn't claiming to be anything but.
"The guys here are fun," Weatherspoon said. "They are like, 'Spoon, don't ever stop.' I'll never stop. Because I'm grateful. It's not a right to be out here, it's a privilege. I don't forget that."