There isn't much depth behind Falcons' weakside linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, so there was understandable consternation when he left the field with a left hand injury during Monday's joint practice with the Bengals. This came after the former first-round pick spent much of the offseason recovering from knee surgery.
A team source told CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora that Weatherspoon suffered a badly dislocated finger, but avoided any broken bones. What this means for the immediate future remains unclear. It's reasonable to think that Weatherspoon could miss Tuesday's practice, and possibly the Falcons' preseason opener against against these same Bengals on Thursday night.
In La Canfora's camp notes from Flowery Branch, he noted that Weatherspoon "is clearly the leader of [the defense], which was obvious as he patrols the sidelines between drills, coaching people up, always chatting, aking sure teammates are getting from one practice field to the next as required (no easy task with two teams comprising about 180 players over three practice field running around today)."
The fourth-year linebacker wals also seen "huddled closely with defensive coordinator Mike Nolan before practice, going over their scripts."
While the key to the Falcons' season starts with quarterback Matt Ryan and the offense, the defense will also be critical to getting this team through the NFC South and back to the postseason. And that means having a healthy Weatherspoon on the field -- especially in light of the possibility that the Rams could win more games than the Falcons in 2013.