Falcons bring back former first-rounder Sean Weatherspoon

The Atlanta Falcons, banged up at linebacker, re-signed 2010 first-round pick Sean Weatherspoon on Tuesday morning.

"Returning to the home team means everything to me," Weatherspoon told ESPN. "I love this city and the people. I'm an ATLien. That being said, I'm thankful to get a shot at playing in a familiar yet very unique environment; a place where work doesn't feel like work. I'm encouraged to be myself here."

This will be the third stint for Weatherspoon, a player known for this toughness and leadership skills. He played four games with the Falcons last season before suffering a season-ending right Achilles tear. Injuries have held him back throughout his career.

"I'm blessed to be given this opportunity," Weatherspoon added. "I prayed for this outcome. I'm so grateful for God's grace."

The move comes after the Falcons found out rookie linebacker Duke Riley, the starting weakside linebacker, has to undergo surgery this week for a meniscus tear. The timetable for Riley's return is unclear, but trimming the meniscus typically involves three-to-six weeks of recovery, while a total repair involves a three-month recovery.

Tackling has been the biggest issue with Riley, and Weatherspoon has the ability to be a sure tackler against the run. The Falcons surrendered more than 100 rushing yards in each of the last three games, including 162 to the Patriots on Sunday night.

Weatherspoon, 29, told ESPN he stayed in shape by working out at Performance Enhancement Professional in Arizona during the offseason. He spent the last three weeks training at Georgia Tech with former Falcons wide receiver Kevin Cone, now the assistant director of football operations at the school. The 6-foot-2 Weatherspoon said he currently weighs 240 pounds.

Although Weatherspoon said he drew interest from 15 teams leading into the season, nothing materialized until he spoke with Falcons coach Dan Quinn last Wednesday. Weatherspoon then went through a workout with linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich on Monday, leading to the signing.

Injuries limited Weatherspoon to just one 16-game season -- in 2011 -- through six NFL seasons. He did not play during the 2014 season due to a ruptured left Achilles. In 65 career games, Weatherspoon has 328 tackles, two interceptions, a forced fumble and 14 pass breakups in 2,840 snaps played.

The Falcons have to make a corresponding roster moving after adding Weatherspoon. They also could activate linebacker LaRoy Reynolds from injured reserve coming off a chest injury. Reynolds returned to practice last week but might not be ready for game action just yet.

The Falcons inserted converted strong safety Kemal Ishmael at weakside linebacker when Riley exited Sunday's loss to the Patriots. Undrafted Jermaine Grace is listed as the backup to Deion Jones at middle linebacker. And Jordan Tripp, another reserve linebacker known more for special teams, is in the concussion protocol.