After nine years in San Diego, the safety has found his kind of sunshine
BALTIMORE — Some 15 minutes after the team’s first open practice of training camp had ended at M&T Bank Stadium, Eric Weddle was one of the final few Ravens players still signing autographs. He capped his sharpie and headed into the locker room only after hearing the stadium-wide announcement, “Coach Harbaugh needs all players in the locker room now.”
“Anything for the fans, especially here,” Weddle said as he walked across the field.
After his nine-year run in San Diego ended like a bad breakup, Weddle is getting a fresh start in Baltimore. Though moving his wife and four children across the country was no small task, he describes the transition as “seamless.” The MMQB caught with up the safety for a quick chat about his new team and new city.
KAHLER: You started living here in Baltimore as quickly as possible after signing with the Ravens. Why was it important to be in Baltimore during the offseason?
WEDDLE: Just coming from a new team and being the older guy, I just kind of wanted to be around my team as much as possible and learn. I wanted to be around them and have them be around me and feel me out. I wanted to imprint what I am as a teammate, as a leader and as a person so it was very important to me. I was here Sunday nights until Thursday, and I’d fly back Thursday night to Sunday every week. It was long, my two older kids were in school, so I think I did that for nine weeks straight. It was long but totally worth it. Luckily I have an amazing wife who puts up with it. We moved here for good at the start of minicamp and now we finally got the house set up and it feels like home; the kids love it. It’s a great community, great people. It’s a football town. There’s a love of San Diego that I will always cherish, but this is the East, it’s football, these people love rooting for the Ravens and this gives you extra motivation in life to go get what you want.
KAHLER: Do you have winter coats yet?
WEDDLE: No we don’t. All we have is sweatshirts right now. It’s going to be a rude awakening for us.
KAHLER: You have a wife and four young kids. How has your family transitioned to life in Baltimore?
WEDDLE: We came from a neighborhood that was kind of older, so we didn’t have that many kids that would go out and play. We moved into a neighborhood that has like, 50 kids in it. There are 12 houses where we kind of all share a big backyard and we’re all circled in there. If one kid goes out there, they all go out and play. Our kids are super outgoing and energetic and they definitely don’t stay in the house at all. It’s been a seamless transition for us.
KAHLER: Describe the differences in team culture between the Ravens and the Chargers.
WEDDLE: The organization top down from the owner Steve [Bisciotti] to Ozzie [Newsome] to Eric DeCosta, everyone in the building is together, it’s a family, it’s everyone working together and it’s about winning championships. That is the culture. That is what we do and what we work for. There are no side agendas, we just push each other. They do the little things— there’s a reason why they are the Ravens, and why anyone would love to come play for them. They reach out to the wives, to the kids, to make them feel at home if they need something. And some other places don’t. In some, you’re all alone. And it just makes it more special and it makes it feel more like a family and a close-knit group, when you have that and you have guys reaching out to your spouse. It means a lot.
KAHLER: Can you tell me about a specific moment where you realized how different the Ravens are?
WEDDLE: Yeah, there was a family movie night and my wife got to walk through our locker room. She’s going through there and it was pretty cool for her, because in nine years in San Diego, she never went through our locker room.
KAHLER: Lardarius Webb is new to the safety position, after seven years at cornerback. Have you helped him with the transition?
WEDDLE: Of course. It’s just the little things, just the repetitions and the experience. He’s been a corner, so just the little things that I’ve seen since I’ve been playing safety that I teach him. Like hey, instead of looking here, you look at this. Read this, not that, and you’ll be closer. You’ll make a play here. Trust your instincts on this, but on this, you may have to back up a little bit because you are the last line of defense. He’s all for it.
KAHLER: I’ve heard other players describe you as the “quarterback of the Ravens’ secondary,” a unit that finished with an NFL-worst six picks last season. How would you describe your role in this defense?
WEDDLE: I am who I am. I didn’t come in—I am never going to come in to a new situation and say this is how it is done or this is the way it has to be. I just let my work ethic, my enthusiasm, my passion, my energy, my love for not just the game but for my teammates—and I think it caught a lot of them off guard, just how open I was to help them and be there for them and to let them know that I don’t have an ego. I want everyone to do well, and to be as successful as you can. Because at the end of the day, this game is about relationships and what you make of them. I want these guys to know 20 years from now that if there is anything they need from me that they can call me. It took a few weeks because they didn’t know if I was putting up a front or not. It’s been great, they are a great group, I think it is a perfect fit for me and what we needed, and what I needed. I’m eager to learn, eager to listen. I just jumped in, and I’m being me. The more and more I am around them, the more my personality comes out, and now it feels like I’ve been here the whole time.
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