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Jimmy Smith Really, Really Likes Eric Weddle


Jimmy Smith didn't need much time to learn about Eric Weddle after the Ravens signed the Pro Bowl safety this offseason. Smith was already well aware of Weddle's ability and had seen plenty of highlights from the 10-year veteran's career. 

Whenever Smith would study film of an opponent the Chargers already faced, he always seemed to notice Weddle jump off the screen.

Smith had also heard stories of Weddle's intense preparation. Weddle was known for his "breakfast club" in San Diego, where he would beat just about everyone into the team facility by starting his workday long before sunrise.

"Around the league, you know how smart he is as a player," Smith said. "He comes in the building at 5 a.m. to study film, and you know a safety like that is going to put you in the right position to make plays, and he is going to be in the right position to make plays. So, I think he's going to help our defense in the back end tremendously."

With that kind of player on the back end of the defense, Smith has high hopes for the Ravens secondary in 2016. The unit struggled early last season, but it came together over the second half of the year.

Part of the secondary's improvement was inserting cornerback Shareece Wright into the starting lineup, and the Ravens showed their faith in Wright by re-signing him to a three-year contract this offseason. Wright and Smith were high school teammates who are still best friends to this day, and Smith made it no secret he wanted the Ravens to keep his buddy in town.

As excited as Smith was about bringing back Wright, he admitted that he really perked up when he heard the news about Weddle.

"Obviously, I was really excited about Shareece," Smith said. "But I was a little bit more excited about Weddle, just because I know what type of leader [he is], just from hearing Shareece talk about him and what type of player he is."

Weddle and Wright were teammates for four seasons in San Diego, so they already have a rapport. Smith, Weddle and the rest of the defensive backs will spend the next couple months of the offseason program to get on the same page.

The Ravens have a strong turnout of defensive backs at the voluntary workouts, and they'll have a chance to get to know each other and new Secondary Coach Leslie Frazier. The Ravens brought in the veteran coach this offseason and he's made a strong first impression on the group.

"I actually got to meet him coming out [of college] as a rookie, and I have a lot of respect for him," Smith said. "Just his presence alone coming into our room, we have a lot of respect for him. I'm looking forward to just being with him.

"Being able to talk to him for the last couple of months, you know he's going to bring a lot of intelligence to our room. He's going to be able to teach us very well what we need to do this season."

At the top of Frazier's to-do list is finding a way to get more turnovers out of the secondary. The Ravens had a franchise-low six interceptions last season, and Frazier’s focus is instilling a ball-hawking mentality in the unit.

Smith is on board with that, and he's optimistic about what the offseason moves will mean for the defense this fall.

"It's a mentality for the defense to have in general – punching balls out, trying to strip it," he said. "Playing different coverages, changing up our scheme a little bit in certain ways I think will create more turnover opportunities for us."

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