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Sean Weatherspoon returns, but what will his role in Atlanta be?

The Falcons will have a hard time putting his role down in pen, but 'Spoon could have value.

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta's reunion with Sean Weatherspoon is a heart-warming one, bringing a beloved (if oft-injured) player back to the Falcons under a brand new coaching staff after one year away. It helps that Weatherspoon plays at linebacker, where the Falcons have a pretty urgent need.

It is worth asking what kind of role 'Spoon can expect to carve out for this Falcons team, and while nothing is guaranteed, I do believe he has a very good shot to make this football team and a decent chance of contributing, and we'll take a look at the why below.

What does Spoon have left?

This is a tricky question to answer. He was a sideline-to-sideline asset for years with Atlanta, with tackling-related hiccups being the only major knock on his game. 'Spoon was generally a well-rounded, athletic linebacker, and the Falcons have been missing those for years.

Of course, that was before the injuries started rolling in. We simply don't know how much Weatherspoon has to give the Falcons after playing limited snaps in Arizona a year after playing just seven games in Atlanta, and it would be foolish of us to assume he's still the same guy he was in his breakout 2011 campaign. If he's totally healthy, he might be 80% of the player we knew and loved, which would probably (and sadly) make him a borderline starter here. I don't think it's unreasonable to assume that he has enough to play a few hundred snaps, again assuming good health.

What kind of role will he have?

This is also tricky, but I suspect if he can stay healthy through training camp, 'Spoon will open the season as a reserve outside linebacker and special teamer. He's indicated that he's willing to play wherever he's needed, and if Nate Stupar and Kroy Biermann are truly leaving, Keith Armstrong is going to need all the new bodies he can get. 'Spoon's always had the ability to cover in a pinch and rush the passer, so I suspect Atlanta will use him primarily on passing downs from time to time. I'd love to think Weatherspoon will look like he did during his best Falcons seasons and prove to be a tremendous asset for the defense, but I'll settle for him making the team and chipping in, and I think that's what we'll get.