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Eric Weddle: Tony Jefferson makes mental game easier

Eric Weddle was a key actor in Baltimore's sales pitch to Tony Jefferson during free agency.

According to the veteran safety, the effort is already paying dividends.

"No disrespect to any of the guys I've played with, but it's nice not to have to explain why I do certain things or why I'm doing this in this coverage," Weddle said, via a detailed feature on Jefferson's path written by The Baltimore Sun's Childs Walker. "From day one, he already had a feel for how I play and how to work off me.

"It frees me up a lot more mentally. I don't have to tell him after each play why I did this or, before the snap, let's do this. He already knows. That is just light years ahead of most guys I've played with. I've loved every guy I've played with, but he's just on another level."

In late May, it was coach John Harbaugh raving about Jefferson, Baltimore's key defensive addition in the secondary. But Weddle's words carry more weight, because he's a five-time All-Pro and his deep secondary mate.

Baltimore's defense finished ninth in the league in passing yards allowed, but entered the offseason with a pressing need at cornerback., addressing that by signing Brandon Carr away from Dallas and drafting Marlon Humphrey. Jefferson became a luxury signing, getting younger and better at the position by replacing him with incumbent starter Lardarius Webb, who remains on the roster. He's evidently a natural learner, too, based on Weddle's comments.

With a starting secondary that will include Weddle, Jefferson, Carr, Jimmy Smith and whoever at nickel corner (Humphrey is likely, though Brandon Boykin and Maurice Canady are possibilities), the Ravens are turning back to what has made the franchise great in the past: excellent defense.

On paper, it's promising. On the practice field, it's encouraging, according to Weddle. We'll see how it plays out come September as Baltimore aims for a return to the playoffs.

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