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Why Lardarius Webb Returned, And How He's Adjusting to His New Role


Lardarius Webb wasn't shocked when the Ravens released him in early March. He knew it was around the time when tough decisions like that are made league-wide.

"That's business. That's football," he said. "I had been here my whole career, and figured it was time to start something new."

As much as getting a taste of free agency for the first time was a bit exciting, Webb wasn't exactly excited about venturing out, however.

He loves playing for the Ravens, who originally drafted the small-school, small-statured cornerback in the third round in 2009 and awarded him with a big multi-year extension after the 2011 season. His entire family loves the Ravens.

A month after the release, after some other teams expressed interest, the Ravens offered Webb a three-year contract to return, and he jumped on it. He was back home.

So why did Webb come back?

"I've been a part of this for so long and I want to continue being a part of it," Webb said. "I'm comfortable here, and I love the people that are here."

Webb said there were multiple factors that led to him re-signing with the Ravens.

Some of it is personal. He has three kids, including two kids under 2 years old, that he didn't want to move. After eight years in Baltimore, he's laid down roots.

Much of it is professional. At the top of that list is winning a championship, which Webb feels the Ravens are poised to do with General Manager Ozzie Newsome, Head Coach John Harbaugh and a title-caliber defense they crafted this offseason.

"I love what Ozzie and Harbs are trying to do," Webb said. "We're trying to win a Super Bowl around here."

What's different is the role Webb will play in that hunt. He's been a starter pretty much throughout his eight-year career (he even started four games as a rookie). Since 2011, he's started every game he's played in except three.

Last year, Webb went from the starting cornerback opposite Jimmy Smith to the starting safety next to Eric Weddle. Webb handled the transition well, making 73 tackles, one sack and one interception.

But when the Ravens had the chance in free agency to grab one of the top, young safeties in the game in Tony Jefferson, they pounced. Now Jefferson and Weddle are entrenched as the starters.

Webb will be their top backup, as well as offer support at cornerback in case of injuries. He's about as good and versatile veteran depth as a team could have in its secondary. Of course, everybody is hoping for good health, but considering that injuries are common among defensive backs, it wouldn't be surprising if Webb's name is called to play a prominent role.

"If we want to get the best secondary in here, I'm down for it," Webb said. "We put the team first here. When I came back, we put the team first. I can bounce around and be there if somebody goes down."

Webb has a Super Bowl XLVII ring, but he didn't play in the game after tearing his ACL midway through the season. He still thirsts to experience that in purple and black.

"We all have that same goal," Webb said. "With T.J. coming here and Weddle coming here, they haven't won Super Bowls. I haven't played in a Super Bowl. The way we win a Super Bowl is to have the best players."

Another reason why Webb wanted to come back is to continue his role as a defensive leader.

He has long been a respected and trusted voice in the locker room, and took young players such as Tavon Young and Maurice Canady under his wing last year – just like safety Ed Reed mentored Webb when he was a young pup. Now Webb is looking forward to working with rookie first-round*cornerback *Marlon Humphrey and sixth-round safety Chuck Clark.

"I want to finish what I was doing with those guys last year. They're going to be great players coming through here," Webb said of Young and Canady.

"I can be the leader. I feel like that was a responsibility for me. It was left on me from some of the older guys to continue our tradition and the way we do things."

Webb said the thought of retiring to spend more time with his family crossed his mind after the Ravens released him. But it was a fleeting thought, and he said he would have signed elsewhere had the Ravens not come with an offer.

"I still got it, now," Webb said with a chuckle. "Don't let 'em fool you."

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