There's a reason why free-agent additions Tony Jefferson and Brandon Carr didn't wear suits to their introductory press conferences in Baltimore.
Eric Weddle got to them first.
Jefferson and Carr both worked out with Weddle at the Under Armour Performance Center before meeting with the press. Weddle insisted on it.
Weddle is well aware of the fact that the Ravens' 2016 season ended just inches short of the playoffs. He was the player trying to peel back Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown from the goal line.
Since then, Weddle has only doubled down on his efforts to get Baltimore back into the postseason. With his family re-settled in Maryland, Weddle hardly left the Under Armour Performance Center following the season. He comes in nearly every day to work out, and takes any other player in the building under his wing.
Outside the weight room, Weddle helped recruit Jefferson and running back Danny Woodhead, and he's a big fan of the Carr signing too.
Now Weddle looks at the talent around him in* *Baltimore's secondary, and he has high hopes for next season.
"We're excited," Weddle said last week. "We have a lot of work to do, but we feel that if we can push each other, compete and really strive to be the best, this secondary can really be special."
The Ravens are already starting at a good place. They had the NFL's ninth-best secondary last season, allowing an average of 233 passing yards per game, despite injuries to top cornerback Jimmy Smith and elsewhere. This offseason, Baltimore has gotten much better on paper.
The addition of Jefferson gives Baltimore one of the league's best safety tandems. Weddle was rated as the league's top safety by Pro Football Focus last year, and Jefferson was No. 6.
Jefferson is particularly strong against the run, and will help cover tight ends and short-to-intermediate routes underneath. That will free up Weddle to roam more, and cover the deep back end. Both safeties can crash down or cover, however, so it provides more flexibility and unpredictability.
At cornerback, the addition of Carr provides more stability to the group. He's seen as an upgrade over Shareece Wright, who struggled at times last year. Carr should be on the field consistently, given that he's started 144 straight games.
"The ceiling for Tony … the sky's the limit for this kid. He's great, works hard, great attitude," Weddle said. "Brandon is tough, durable, physical, you can count on him each week. In the NFL, it comes down to, can you be counted on week to week? You'll take the guy that you can count on for 16 weeks over the guy that's more talented but you don't know what you're going to get."
The Ravens return Smith, who is one more year removed from Lisfranc foot surgery, and rising sophomore cornerback Tavon Young, who proved himself as a scrappy 11-game starter last year. Young should shine at nickel corner, and has the flexibility to play outside if needed.
Baltimore is also expected to still bolster the unit further in the draft. The Ravens haven't drafted a cornerback in the first three rounds since Smith in 2011, and that could change.
The front office began the process of transforming the secondary by bringing in Weddle last offseason. Together, the front office and Weddle have taken the next step this offseason.
"The season never ends," Weddle said. "I have one opportunity to get the most out of this, and I'm taking every chance I get. Anyone who's around me, I'm going to bring them along with me to strive to be the best."