For the first weekend since the beginning of August, Will Witherspoon isn't playing football.
Witherspoon was acquired by the Eagles from the St. Louis Rams at the week six trade deadline, after the Eagles week four bye and before the Rams' bye. So the versatile linebacker ended up playing 17 regular season games, the only player in the league this season to do so.
"You know it's been a wild year to say the least," Witherspoon said. "For me it's been a wholly new experience, a whole new animal. Coming here, having to revamp my mind, learn the defense, change positions, try and learn the intricacies of everything and just try and get to the level of play I like to be at. Again, that part right there has been a challenge, but to come here and be part of a great organization, great group of fans that follow this organization and all in all just be a part of this team.
"I think the guys in the locker room are great. The coaching staff is great. I think it's really just reinvigorated me in a lot of ways to get going."
Witherspoon immediately became the Eagles' starting middle linebacker when he was acquired, and made quite an impression in his first game. Playing against the Washington Redskins on Monday Night Football, Witherspoon had an interception for a touchdown and a forced fumble on a sack.
But after a few games, defensive coordinator Sean McDermott moved Witherspoon back to his natural position at weakside linebacker. Witherspoon said that he expects the defense to be better next year, especially if they can avoid injuries.
"I think stability at the linebackers is always one of those things you'd like to have," he said. "It's a violent game, things happen and guys get injured up and down.
"You'd like to have that stability because typically the linebackers are pretty much running the show. All in all, you have to take everything in stride. It's a game that's played violently, things are going to happen and guys are going to get banged up and you're going to have to make shifts and moves and move some of the pieces on your board around and make sure you fit it."
For Witherspoon, 29, a full off-season to get acclimated into the Eagles' defensive system could work wonders, especially now that he knows what position he'll be playing.
"That'll be a great thing, to be able to, really, for me just to take time to focus on the defense and know everything," he said. "Know everything I need to know, not just from one standpoint (as a weakside linebacker), know it from the one angle I definitely need to, but to know it from every angle as well."
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 2:00 p.m., January 17