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Ravens Vet Eric Weddle Befriends Titans Safety Kevin Byard



NASHVILLE, Tenn. –** Ravens safety Eric Weddle is an 11-year NFL veteran, a five-time Pro Bowler, a two-time All-Pro, and a player who has over 1,000 tackles to his name.

He's also a mentor to Titans safety Kevin Byard, and one of his biggest supporters.

During the course of the 2017 season, Weddle sought out Byard, a second-year pro from MTSU. He got his phone number, and called him. He congratulated him on his success, and offered to help him any way he could moving forward.

It was the start of a friendship.

"I let him know I thought he was having a great year, and that I watched him on film," Weddle said of Byard. "I just let him know I am here for him, on the field and off the field. Anything that I can help him with scheme-wise, if he sees something. Or even off the field, if he needs something, I am here. It is hard for a young guy coming into this league to balance everything on the field and off the field. So I try to be there for the young guys. It's all about relationships and leaving a mark on everyone you come in touch with."

The gesture made a nice impression on Byard, who was named All-Pro in 2017, a season when he tallied eight interceptions while leading the NFL with 10 takeaways.

"It is amazing, really," Byard said of Weddle. "You're talking about a future Hall of Famer. I think he's been to five Pro Bowls, and (I've been to) one. Just to have guys around the league, somebody I have been looking up to for a long time show me that kind of respect, it is amazing."

Weddle and Byard spent time together at the Pro Bowl in Orlando last month. Weddle made his comments about Byard in a post-practice interview with Titans Online.

Weddle said he's tried to reach out to some of the game's young safeties in recent years. Weddle said he saw something special when watching Byard.

Byard tallied 87 tackles and 18 passes defensed in 2017, in addition to his eight interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Weddle just wrapped up his second season in Baltimore after playing the previous nine seasons with the Chargers. Weddle has recorded 29 interceptions in his career, including six last season.

"He is a great kid," Weddle said of Byard. "He's humble, eager to learn. He asks questions. And he is a playmaker. He came out of college and had 19 picks, and when I notice guys like that who make plays…. Guys who come out of small schools and make plays like that, they usually become really good players.

"To see him develop from Year 1 to Year 2. He shored up his tackling -- he barely missed any tackles, which is big for a free safety. And he made plays on the ball. He showed he is a playmaker. Now he has to show it every year and be consistent and show that he is not a one-year wonder. And that is what I have been telling him, to work at the little things that may be negative in his game. Whether it's film study or technique stuff there's always a way to get better."

Byard said he plans to stay in touch with Weddle.

He spent a week picking his brain in Orlando, but it won't stop there.

"He said I had a phenomenal year, and I have a bright future ahead of me. He told me to keep grinding," Byard said of Weddle. "He has been very supportive, and he told me this offseason if I want to come out and train with him I can. So that was a good invite." looks back at safety Kevin Byard's All-Pro 2017 season. (AP Photos)

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