When Eric Weddle lines up in his safety position, he can’t help but smile when he surveys his teammates in the secondary. He sees a group of competitive playmakers who have made tremendous strides over the first week in camp encouraging the Pro Bowl safety for what the future holds in 2014.
One key addition was the June signing of Brandon Flowers. Weddle, already impressed by the Pro Bowl corner prior to his arrival, has become an even bigger advocate of his new teammate after just one week playing alongside him.
“His knowledge of the game is outstanding,” Weddle said. “I knew how good he was as a player because he’s been a great corner in this league, but the way he sees the game is exciting. It’s also exciting to communicate with a guy like that who understands what I’m telling him. If I alert something or say something, he sees it right away and understands it. When you get a guy like that it makes life a lot easier for me. I know he understands things and that I don’t have to talk to him after every play. I know if I nod to him or give him a signal, he knows right away and is thinking the same thing. So he’s been great and will help us out a bunch.”
Flowers, given the day off Thursday, putting Steve Williams in his stead. Weddle is a fan of last year’s fifth-round selection, which speaks volumes considering he was forced to miss the entire year with a torn pectoral.
“I didn’t see him get beat over the top, so that’s always good,” Weddle joked with his trademark grin before turning serious. “But when he’s locked in he’s as good as we have man to man. He’s very quick and very fast. He gets his body in unorthodox positions and somehow gets out and gets back in face. He just needs to stay consistent.”
Another member of the Chargers’ secondary Weddle touts highly is Jahleel Addae. As a fellow safety, number 32 knows firsthand how talented Addae is and sees a lot of himself in the second-year player.
“Jahleel is having a great camp as well,” he said. “Sometimes he wants to make a play so badly. He’s a lot like myself early on. He just needs to rein himself a little bit and let the plays come to him. Like I told him this morning, the plays will happen if you’re in position and you let the game come to you. Don’t try to force yourself to make plays in certain coverages where it doesn’t allow you to because you’re going to end up getting beat or your teammate will get beat because of it. So he’s great. He’s just the greatest kid, I love him to death and he has a great future ahead of him because he just listens, works extremely hard and wants to be a great player. Some people say they want to be great, but he backs it up. And I love that about him and I’m going to give everything I can to help him get there.”
Overall, Weddle believes if the secondary stays healthy and maintains consistency, they will turn some heads.
“The biggest thing with a lot of guys is they need to stay healthy and they need to understand that you can’t come out here for a week, have a good week and then the next week get beat for five touchdowns and think you’re going to play,” he explained. “It doesn’t work that way. We’ll lose games because of that. The guys are understanding that it’s all about consistency.”
While he’s encouraged by the secondary, his enthusiasm isn’t only limited to the defensive backs. Weddle sees the defense gelling, and as a result they are instinctively reacting rather than thinking.
“The biggest thing is if you know what you’re doing and you’re confident in what you’re doing within the defense, then you play fast,” he said. “It’s just natural. Less thinking means you’re going to anticipate and let your instincts take over. You’re not going to be sitting back thinking, ‘What should I be doing?’ So naturally as the years grow older in your progression you’re going to play faster, and when you have the same group you’re going to play collectively faster, and it’s showing on the field.”
Don't forget, Saturday marks the team's annual FanFest at Quacomm Stadium. It's always a highlight of the summer and is an event you won't want to miss. Click here for more information.