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Five questions to ask as Ravens acquire Weddle


Five questions to ask as Ravens acquire Weddle

New Ravens safety Eric Weddle is scheduled to arrive Wednesday in Baltimore for his physical, contract signing, and press conference. Here are five questions to ask regarding the Ravens’ important acquisition:

1. Can Weddle stop the Ravens’ revolving door at safety?

Michael Huff. James Ihedigbo. Darian Stewart. Matt Elam. Kendrick Lewis. Will Hill. All of them have been given opportunities to start at safety since the 2012 season, when the Ravens won a Super Bowl with Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard as the starters. Weddle will be expected to re-establish stability in the secondary - a three-time Pro Bowler who is still only 31 years old. Both as a playmaker and a leader, Weddle has the experience to lineup teammates properly, diagnose plays, and reduce the mental mistakes that have hurt the Ravens’ secondary in recent years. And having missed just three games over the past five years, Weddle’s track record suggests durability won’t be an issue.

2. Will Weddle’s presence dramatically increase the Ravens’ takeaways?

The Ravens had an NFL-low six interceptions last season, a major reason they finished 5-11. Weddle has 19 career interceptions and the instincts of a centerfielder. The Ravens will count on his presence to produce more takeaways and more scoring opportunities.

3. Who will be paired with Weddle at safety?

After inking a four-year, $26 million deal, pencil in Weddle as one starter. But who will start beside him? It could be Lardarius Webb, who is making the switch from cornerback to safety. It could be Hill, a ferocious hitter who does not excel in pass coverage. Or someone else could emerge. It’s a crowded field at safety for the Ravens, and the competition will be intense.

4. Who’s on the way out?

Clearly, the Ravens have too many safeties. Lewis, Elam, Terrence Brooks, Webb, and Hill won’t all be on the Ravens’ roster by Week 1.

5. What’s next in free agency for the Ravens?

The Ravens have been uncharacteristically aggressive early in free agency, grabbing Weddle and tight end Benjamin Watson. Another move, like adding a veteran wide receiver, is still a possibility.

[RELATED: Michael Vick to retire after 2016 season]


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Dominant defense earns Ravens' Za'Darius Smith AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors

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Dominant defense earns Ravens' Za'Darius Smith AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors

The defensive performance on display by the Baltimore Ravens Sunday against the Tennessee Titans in a 21-0 shutout win was flat out historic. So historic that it's earned linebacker Za'Darius Smith AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors.

A franchise-record 11 sacks were laid on quarterback Marcus Mariota during the Week 6 matchup, with Smith leading the way with three of them.   

So far this season the 26-year-old has 20 combined tackles, 5.5 sacks, and one forced fumble. As someone who is in the final year of his rookie NFL contract, he's certainly proving he is worthy of getting paid this offseason. 

"It feels great, man. It's big," Smith said of the honor during media availability Wednesday. "I know when I first found out I called my mom and she was already looking at it. But I called her and she was trying to congratulate me and was like 'who would've ever thought the guy that played one year of high school football would be where he at now and making so many goals.'"

But earning AFC Defensive Player of the Week isn't the only goal Smith has in mind. His performance through the first six weeks and assisting the No. 1 ranked scoring defense is just a stepping stone to the ultimate honor.

"I was telling her, 'Ma you know this is a good self-goal but my main goal is to get us to the Super Bowl.'" 

The road to the Super Bowl for Smith and the Ravens continues this Sunday vs. Drew Brees and the Saints. 


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Peter King awards two Ravens with weekly honors for defensive performance vs.Titans

Peter King awards two Ravens with weekly honors for defensive performance vs.Titans

The Baltimore Ravens' Week 6 dominate performance over the Tennessee Titans is gaining national attention. 

A historic game that displayed the offense and defense firing on all cylinders, it's hard to pinpoint who had the biggest impact. 

So in his latest edition of Football Morning in America, NBC Sports' Peter King awarded not one, but two Ravens with weekly honors.


Against the Titans, Smith led the Ravens defense with three sacks and five tackles in their historic 11-sack game. On of three Defensive Players of the Week, King explained why Smith's performance stood out.

In the most dominant defensive performance of this ultra-offensive season, the Ravens shut out Tennessee 21-0 and had 11 sacks. Another one of GM Ozzie Newsome’s draft gifts that keeps on giving, Smith (2015, round four, Kentucky) contributed three sacks of Marcus Mariota and five tackles in a virtuoso game. Net passing yards for Mariota: 51.

Smith, who's entering the final year of his rookie NFL contract, has shown over six games he deserves to get paid in the offseason. So far this season the 26-year-old has 20 combined tackles, 5.5 sacks and one forced fumble. 

COACH OF THE WEEK: Don "Wink" Martindale

In his first season as defensive coordinator, Don "Wink" Martindale has seamlessly made the transition from linebackers coach to leading the NFL's No. 1 scoring defense (12.8). But what impressed King the most from the 21-0 shutout was how Martindale's squad got to Mariota from every direction. 

When a unit records more sacks (11) than completions allowed (10), the leader gets an award. Those are the rules. Martindale’s pass rushers got to Marcus Mariota every possible way—up the middle, around the edges, in the pocket, on bootlegs, you name it. The total set a new franchise record and was one short of the single-game NFL mark of 12. And it came with a familiar face watching: Titans defensive coordinator Dean Pees used to hold the same position in Baltimore. Shout out to the Ravens social media team for renaming the account RavenSSSSSSSSSSS, one ‘S’ for each sack.

This Ravens defense, who has always been known for its dominance, is ranked first in points allowed (12.8), first in yards allowed (270.8), second in passing yards allowed (188.0) and third in rushing yards allowed (82.8) heading into Week 7. In addition, they have yet to surrender a second half touchdown all season. Trusting of the talent this roster holds, the respect "Wink" has for his players is equally reciprocated. 

"It was really emotional when they told us we had 11 sacks," linebacker Patrick Onwuasor said postgame. "We just went out there and we were like, ‘We have to get Coach Wink . We have to put the Gatorade on him.’ So, we tried to turn him around so he couldn’t see it coming, and we had to get him real good."

Martindale will now face the No. 1 scoring offense in the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.