Former Pro Bowl safety Eric Weddle has only been with the Baltimore Ravens for a couple of months by now, after spending the entirety of the rest of his long career with the Chargers, but the veteran already seems to have blended in with his new environment.
During a recent practice session, Weddle told reporters that “it feels like I’ve been here my whole career”, a career that is heading into its 10th season at the age of 31. Of course, the fact that he said a couple of months ago that the Chargers are dead to him no doubt eased his transition from the west coast to the east coast.
Not only is he feeling comfortable in his new surroundings, however, he has also been welcomed with open arms by his new teammates, including potentially the player he may end up pairing with at the back end of the defense, Lardarius Webb, who is making the full conversion to safety after spending his career as a cornerback up to this point.
The first thing that Webb told his new teammate was to be himself, whatever that meant. “We want Eric Weddle”, he told the former Charger. “Don’t hold back. Don’t be quiet. We want you. If you yelled when you were with the Chargers, I want you coming out here yelling”.
It was no secret that the final stretch of Weddle’s tenure in San Diego was somewhat acrimonious, and it would be no difficulty to imagine that creeping into his on-field performance, not to mention the injuries that he has dealt with as he slipped from his usual Pro Bowl former last season.
Ravens site writer Sarah Ellison notes that “everything that embodies vintage Weddle is already showing up: the fun-loving attitude, the world-class work ethic and study habits, the infectious energy, the coverage disguises, the smell of fear he creates in opposing offenses – everything”.
Many—most fans of division rivals, no doubt—have had to scoff at the Ravens’ signing of Weddle, even some who wanted own teams to sign the safety initially, suggesting that he is a shadow of his former self and that he is being paid more than he is worth.
One thing that he should do for the Ravens, however, at the very least, is stabilize a back end that has been somewhat haphazard ever since Ed Reed walked out the door for the final time, as Baltimore has yet to find a replacement for him.
Will Hill may have come the closest, but they had to release him this offseason after he was hit with yet another suspension as he creeps closer to hitting a half-dozen of those. And Hill is a far cry from the sort of leadership and gravitas that Weddle can bring to a meeting room.
“The defense has come along so well for me that I still play aggressive and still play with my instincts and not think so much”, he said. “I’m at peace out there. I don’t think, I just play and my guys are playing off me well”. It’s yet to be determined which ‘guy’ that will be starting alongside him.