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Mike Nolan: Falcons' Sean Weatherspoon can be better

Sean Weatherspoon is coming off a season that signaled the Atlanta Falcons could have a perennial Pro Bowl linebacker in their midst.

But Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan believes the versatile third-year pro hasn't come close to reaching his ceiling.

"He's a good player now, but he could be a lot better than he is," Nolan told the Falcons' official website Monday. "And he will be. No question, because he loves football and he's exciting to watch and he's a playmaker, for all those reasons. But he's done well, but he can still do a lot better."

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As Gregg Rosenthal pointed out in our "Making the Leap" series, Weatherspoon has the ideal skill set for his position in today's NFL. Every team needs its outside linebackers to match run-stopping and QB-rushing ability with coverage skills. Weatherspoon proved during last season's Pro Bowl-level performance that he can do it all.

Nolan -- who was named the Falcons' new defensive coordinator in January -- might be the philosophical match to Weatherspoon's physical prowess. But Nolan cautioned it's a learning process for the 24-year-old.

"Primarily, what I see is a guy who just loves to play, but in the new system, he's still trying to learn the language and things like that, so there's some way to go," he said. "But he'll find it very friendly and I think he already does see, down the road, how exciting it can be in this system, because a lot of guys have benefited from it."

The Falcons were confident enough in Weatherspoon to let Curtis Lofton walk in free agency. Don't be surprised if Weatherspoon rewards the Falcons' faith.

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