The Atlanta Falcons’ defense, which ranks near the bottom of the league, will be welcoming their star linebacker Sean Weatherspoon with open arms. Even though Weatherspoon is clearly the team’s best defensive player, undrafted linebacker Paul Worrilow became a dominant enforcer in his absence and the future is bright for what the Falcons are hoping a rising star.
With 19 tackles in two consecutive games, Worrilow has already cemented his name in the history books for the Falcons, as he joined Ring of Honor member Jessie Tuggle in being the only two players to record 15 tackles or more twice in the same season. So far this season, Worrilow has not only made his impact felt on the guys he ferociously tackles, but on the stat sheet as well. Worrilow is currently second on the team in tackles with 59 and only trails safety William Moore who leads the team with 81 tackles.
Although Weatherspoon will most likely be reclaiming his starting spot on the defense, defensive coordinator Mike Nolan’s strong comments on Worrilow’s play points that he will be starting next to Weatherspoon in their game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“He’s a good football player,” Nolan said. “He’s very instinctive. He’s a good tackler. If you noticed in the middle of the field against Carolina, he tackled the back in space a couple times. He tackled that big back [Marshawn Lynch] last week a couple times in space by himself, when there were a couple times I saw [Lynch] carry about three or four of our guys down the sideline. … The biggest thing that stands out is he’s instinctive. And for a young guy, last week he was one of the team captains. In timeout in things when I’d call him over, he’s got a good way about him, very poised.”
In a season where the Falcons younger players have struggled to meet expectations that the team had for them such as Lamar Holmes, coach Mike Smith and his coaching staff have to be relieved and excited at the same time that an unexpected player like Worrilow is making such an impact.
With seven games remaining in what turned out to be a miserable and difficult year, the Falcons will be paying close attention to their undrafted linebacker and see how he performs down the stretch. At this rate, Worrilow’s future seems to be very bright and maybe what the Falcons need right now … their younger players stepping up.