Despite initially being left out, Ravens safety Eric Weddle will join several teammates at the Pro Bowl in Orlando this week, after all.
The 32-year-old was added to the AFC roster on Monday as a replacement for New England’s Devin McCourty, who will play in Super Bowl LI. Weddle was deemed a second alternate when the original rosters were unveiled last month, and former Raven and current Denver safety Darian Stewart — the first alternate — had already been announced as a replacement for Eric Berry of Kansas City.
This is Weddle’s fourth career selection to the Pro Bowl.
Weddle was a standout performer in his first season with Baltimore, collecting 89 tackles, four interceptions, a sack, a forced fumble, and 13 pass breakups. After being graded as the top safety in the NFL by Pro Football Focus, Weddle’s absence from the Pro Bowl was considered by many to be a snub.
“I know how it works. I’ve been around a long time,” said Weddle a day after the announcements were made last month. “I know what my teammates and the organization think of me and what I’ve brought to this team. At the end of the day, that’s really all that matters. The people that know me see what I do on and off the field. That’s what you count on.”
Weddle will join four of his teammates in Orlando, a group that includes inside linebacker C.J. Mosley, fullback Kyle Juszczyk, kicker Justin Tucker, and long snapper Morgan Cox. A shoulder injury prompted six-time Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda to decline the invitation to play in the game.
Signed to a four-year, $26 million contract last offseason after spending the first nine years of his career with the San Diego Chargers, Weddle brought stability to a secondary that had been lacking leadership since Ed Reed’s departure following Super Bowl XLVII. Defensive teammates affectionately referred to Weddle as “coach” for his rigorous preparation in meetings and cerebral presence on the field.
“You do not get a chance to see the kind of leader he is, the type of person [he is],” quarterback Joe Flacco said. “It is not easy to come off of a new team, come in here, and try to prove to everybody, ‘I belong here; I’m a good player.’ And at the same time, be a leader right away. That is the thing you can feel from Eric. He has come in here, and he has not been bashful. He has made the right impact right away in leading this football team.”
The Pro Bowl will be played on Sunday at 8 p.m.