Veteran players reported to training camp for the Baltimore Ravens on Wednesday, July 26, 2017 and took to the field for the first time on Thursday. Camp can be a grueling and tedious process for veteran players.
Now entering his second season in Baltimore, free safety Eric Weddle is happy to come back. He wants this season to be one of the best ever for the Ravens.
"Every year is a great opportunity, but even more so this year. We’re always having fun, always pushing each other," Weddle explained back in June. "It’s been a great offseason, just the participation, the work we’ve put in, and it’s showing out on the field. We need to carry it over and keep pushing it and be ready to have our best year ever."
The window may be closing for Baltimore, as several aging stars are moving into the twilight of their careers. Before it closes, Weddle wants his teammates to see what is in front of them and take advantage.
"We have a great opportunity and we have depth. Just seeing it mold together as OTAs went on and minicamp— of what we can become, but it’s only going to happen if we strive to be great," Weddle explained. "We strive to keep each other accountable, including myself. You can’t have a day off [or] a bad practice, if you want to be the best. Everyone has that mentality."
The Ravens got off to a strong start last year, opening the season at 3 - 0. They ended with an 8 - 8 record— out of the playoffs for the second consecutive season.
Not making it to the post season was unacceptable to many players on the Ravens. With aging veterans such as Terrell Suggs (15th season) and Joe Flacco (32 years old) working towards the back end of their careers, no season can be taken for granted.
There has already been some roster turnovers due to retirement. Weddle only got to spend a single season with one of his best friends and former teammate Steve Smith Sr. He isn't making any excuses for this season.
"Coming up short last year, that’s on everyone’s minds. Nothing is guaranteed in this league," Weddle said. "We understand that we can’t have a year not be successful because a lot of changes had happened. We want to make [good] and give ourselves the best chance to win a bunch of games, and be the best unit out there."