Eric Weddle Loves His Altered Role as Ravens Centerfielder


Ravens safety Eric Weddle is a happy camper right now, and it's not just because he's gotten to eat more post-game ice cream in recent weeks.

Weddle talked Wednesday about his frustration after missing a few tackles in the run game earlier this season. The missed tackle in overtime against the Chicago Bears stung the most.

But the California native shrugs them off because he's played enough ball to know there's going to be some downs sprinkled in among the many ups, especially when it comes to playing safety.

"That's playing the game. You're going to have plays that you wished you had back and there's plays that help your team win," Weddle said.

"I haven't missed a tackle in five games, but early on, that's what I was mad about. Covering guys and playing deep and making plays, I'm still the best doing that stuff."

Shifted into a different role that features each safety's strengths, Weddle and Tony Jefferson have been working better in tandem in recent games, and it's certainly showing in the stats.

Weddle has interception in back-to-back games and is now tied for the third-most in the league with four. That's as many as he had all last season, and there's still six games remaining.

Weddle corralled overthrown passes by Tennessee's Marcus Mariota and Green Bay's Brett Hundley. Both times, Weddle was exactly in the right spot when mistakes were forced.

Meanwhile, Jefferson has also had three of his best games of the season over the past three weeks as well. The tandem came under some media and fan scrutiny earlier this year, but that's now well in the rearview mirror.

"Over the last 3 ½ weeks, we've moved Tony around a lot and put him in position to let him be free and go do what he does best. It's leaving me playing more of the free safety role," Weddle said.

"Let him do what he does better and let me protect everybody, and if the ball's up there, go get it. I think that's why he's playing better and that's why we're playing better as a unit."

Weddle also said he's happy to be healthy now, one week removed from the bye. "I'm not playing with one arm and a bum ankle," he said with a chuckle.

Add it all up, and Weddle is excited about the final regular-season stretch. He leads a defense that has three shutouts and a secondary that sits atop the league in interceptions (16).

When it comes to his place among the NFL's top pick artists, Weddle just once again shrugged his shoulders. The only players ahead of him are Tennessee Titans safety Kevin Byard (24 years old) and Buffalo Bills safety Micah Hyde (26).

"I'd much rather take six wins and no picks than six picks and go 3-3 and miss playoffs," Weddle said.

"It's nice, but I'm just doing my job and making plays. When the ball is up in the air, I feel like I'm going to get it. Quarterbacks keep trying us, and we have to make them pay."

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