OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The way safety Eric Weddle has taken over a leadership role with the Baltimore Ravens reminds defensive coordinator Dean Pees of another longtime San Diego Chargers player who once joined his defense.
"Who I compare him to is Junior Seau," Pees said. "Junior Seau was a guy that was in New England and we had a bunch of leaders in [linebackers Mike] Vrabel and [Tedy] Bruschi. You get a guy who walks in the door, and he's an automatic leader and is accepted. That's the same way Eric Weddle is."
The Ravens can only hope that Weddle has the same type of impact on the defensive production. When Seau joined New England in 2006, Pees' Patriots defense went from being ranked No. 26 to No. 6.
Baltimore made Weddle its biggest free-agent addition because it needed a difference-maker in the secondary. Last season, the Ravens gave up a franchise-worst 30 touchdown passes and recorded an NFL-worst six interceptions.
The Ravens have had their share of established leaders, from Ray Lewis to Ed Reed to Terrell Suggs. But Baltimore has been able to sustain its success by incorporating the right veteran personalities through free agency, whether it was Rod Woodson, Steve McNair or Steve Smith Sr.
Pees called Weddle "a natural leader" who established himself with the Ravens the first day he walked into the team facility.
"It's very humbling," Weddle said of the comparison to Seau. "If I can have a little bit of an impact like that, it would definitely be a success. There is no added pressure. I want that. I want to be the best. I want to help the team anyway I can. I think the guys understand that and almost feed off the energy, my willingness to help and to be there for them on and off the field."