Very rarely does a team enlist the services of a 37-year old player who’s been retired for nearly two years for a playoff game. However, out of necessity, the Los Angeles Rams placed that call to safety Eric Weddle, who now joins them for their Wild Card Weekend bout against the Arizona Cardinals.
The need for a safety came after Jordan Fuller was ruled out for the season due to an ankle injury and Taylor Rapp entered the NFL’s concussion protocol. Weddle last played for the Rams in 2019 and was happy about the chance to play in such a pivotal game for the franchise.
Weddle spoke about why he chose to return and how prepared he feels to take the field in an important game, according to Brady Henderson of ESPN:
“Once you play as long as I did, football becomes who are,” he said. “So even though I haven’t been playing football, I still train like I’m playing football even though it was never even a remote possibility ever over the last year and a half because I was pretty much set in my decision and very happy. This is by no means me having an itch or anything like that; it was just an opportunity of a lifetime, quite honestly.”
But being almost two years removed from his last NFL action, concerns about conditioning and football shape are to be expected. Weddle put those worries to bed, saying that he’s done everything a person can do outside of an NFL organization to stay ready.
“Obviously training for an NFL season is unlike anything else,” he said. “You can’t get that outside by yourself. And I’m not saying I’m on that level, but I have done things both training-wise and playing five-on-five once or twice a week. I love basketball and that change of direction, jumping, start and stop. I came out yesterday and ran and lifted and it was as if I had been here all season. I’m not going to say I’m at that level. That discredits every NFL player that’s spent the time and effort. But if I didn’t feel like I can go out there and be what I’m expected to be, I wouldn’t be sitting here right now.”
It’s unclear exactly how big a role Weddle will play on Monday night against the Cardinals. Some of it will depend on whether or not Rapp can be cleared to play in time and if cornerback Darious Williams is good to go. The thinner the Rams get in the secondary, the more time Weddle will play.
Players don’t often get the chance to come out of retirement and play an impact role for a team. If they do, they very rarely accept. But this was a case of right place, right time for the Rams safety as he gears up to take the field and help L.A. reach the divisional round.
Jalen Ramsey celebrates Weddle return
Perhaps no one in the Rams organization was happier about Weddle’s return to the field than star cornerback Jalen Ramsey. After a cryptic tweet the night before the signing, Ramsey unleashed his excitement once it was officially announced.
The two will have the chance to share a secondary in the biggest game of the Rams season up to this point.