Weatherspoon was running when the injury occurred and immediately underwent testing that confirmed the season-ending ailment. He will have a procedure to repair the damage soon and is expected to make a full recovery.
"During Sean’s run today with our medical staff, he suffered an injury," head coach Mike Smith said. "We sent Sean to the doctor for some additional testing and evaluation and unfortunately the results showed that he ruptured his Achilles tendon. Sean had been working extremely hard to get back on the field, but regrettably he will miss the entire 2014 season. He will have a procedure done in the near future and we expect him to make a full recovery."
The 26-year-old was a play-caller with the Falcons' defense. His absence will be felt among a unit that finished 27th in total defense last season, according to Pro-Football-Reference.com. He played in and started just seven games in 2013 and was working to get back on the field under a clean bill of health for the 2014 season.
As Dave Choate of The Falcoholic points out, the Falcons now have to lean upon a very inexperienced bunch to step in at an important position:
This also has a cascade effect on the rest of the linebacking corps, obviously. 'Spoon was a lock to start if he was healthy, but without him the Falcons will be leaning more heavily on their second year and rookie linebacker in his absence. Kroy Biermann and Jonathan Massaquoi will likely start outside, with Paul Worrilow, Prince Shembo and Akeem Dent competing for starting gigs on the inside. The Falcons also have Marquis Spruill, Osi Umenyiora, Tyler Starr and Yawin Smallwood in the mix, so they're not short on options, even if many of those options are unproven.
In four NFL seasons, Weatherspoon has suited up for all 16 games just once in 2011, his best campaign where he registered four sacks, defensed eight passes and finished with 86 solo tackles and 39 assists on tackles.