FLOWERY BRANCH – Arizona linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, who’s getting ready to play in his second NFC championship game, gave us his scouting reporter after practice on Thursday.
Here’s what Weatherspoon, who was drafted in the first round by the Falcons in 2010 but left after the 2014 season to sign with the Cardinals as a free agent, had to say about quarterback Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers:
ON WHAT HE TOLD THE CARDINALS ABOUT CAM NEWTON AND THE PANTHERS: “A lot of the things that I talked about with those guys is that the Panthers, they try to come out and … they think they can just come out and do what they do. They don’t even count the box to see where you’re light at. They just kind of run the ball. That’s just what they do: power running game. They really believe they can go in and run it on anybody.
“I just told the guys that if we stop the run, we’ll put Cam in situations where a lot of quarterbacks are going to struggle sometimes. If we can win first down and put them…win first and second and put them in third and six-plus, it’s going to better for us. We have to make sure that we knock that run game out so that we can make Cam throw the ball and make him beat us with his arm. Not to say that he’s not improved in that area, because he has, but we like our chances of him throwing the ball as oppose to them having 28 (Jonathan Stewart) running all around us and having Cam run as well, that just makes it tough.”
ON MAKING IT BACK TO THE NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: “The only thing that is different is that I understand what this moment is completely about. I was a young player, playing in the NFC championship game. I understand now. Tony (Gonzalez) was in like his 17th year and hadn’t even been there before. I still couldn’t wrap my head around that. But now, it took me three years just to get back to this point. A lot of people don’t get a chance to play in the championship game twice. You just can’t take it for granted. You don’t want this moment to slip by. That’s my main focus, doing whatever I can to make sure that we capture this moment instead of the opposite.”
ON IF HE GETS MAD AT NEWTON FOR CELEBRATION DANCES: “Not at all. If you stop him, you don’t have deal with all of that. There’s nothing wrong with having fun out there if you ask me. If you love what you’re doing and you’re definitely having some fun? I kind of dig it. When I’m making big plays I like to have me some fun, too. So, I can’t knock it. But the thing is, if you don’t want to see that, just prepare and be ready to go.”
FALCONS END OF SEASON STORIES