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Eric Weddle Talks About Playing Safety

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Lost Lettermen spoke with former Utah and current San Diego Chargers safety Eric Weddle as part of a season-long interview series with those who have been involved with the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team.

The 2011 season marks the 20th year of the national award, which honors players who stand out for their commitment to making a difference in their communities. Weddle was a 2006  member of the team.

The 26-year-old Weddle currently is tied with Green Bay Packers defensive back Charles Woodson and Kyle Arrington of the New England Patriots for the most interceptions in the NFL this season thus far with five.

It has been a breakout professional campaign for Weddle, who was the Mountain West Conference’s Player of the Year in 2005 and 2006. In an interview conducted last Thursday, he tells Lost Lettermen the best part about being an NFL safety.

Also, how did Weddle prepare for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, who edged the Chargers, 45-38, on Sunday? We find out that and more.

Lost Lettermen: How do you feel about Utah’s move to the Pac-12? Is it something that you expected?

Eric Weddle: I didn’t expect it but, over the last couple of years, you knew that movement was going to happen. The success that we’ve had and the education and all the stuff that university brings obviously was a great choice for the Pac-12 to add us in there. It was a dream for that to happen when I was there, but I never thought that it would become a reality. And it has. It’s cool as an alumni to be intertwined as an alumni with the Pac-12 now.

LL: I know you are busy with your NFL schedule, but do you keep up with the Utes?

EW: I do. I watch them every weekend and text with the coaches weekly or every other week and they keep me up on what’s going on.

LL: What does it mean to you to be one of the NFL’s leaders in interceptions? Is that statistic most important to a defensive back or are there other parts of a safety’s game that are more important than actual raw INT numbers?

EW: Obviously, turnovers are big. You like to force turnovers. But there’s more to defense than interceptions - coverage, tackles, not giving up touchdowns. All that is important to be consistent overall. But it’s good that we’re playing well, but I wish we had more wins, though.

LL: The Chargers have had some tough late losses this year. I know wins are the bottom line, but can you take anything positive out of your close losses this year?

EW: We just have to continue to get better. We have to believe in each other. It’s a long season. We just have to keep working. There’s good things and bad things that happen, but we just have to learn from them.

LL: How do you prepare for a great quarterback like Aaron Rodgers? Can you expect to completely stop him or do you just hope to contain that high-powered offense?

EW: It’s probably one of the best offenses that we will go against, if not the best quarterback. But we are up to the challenge and have an understanding of what they like to do. We gotta be on our toes, have to go out and play great. Not only the defense, but the offense and the special teams. Go out there and put it all together and get a win.

LL: You played against Tom Brady earlier in the season. Is there a difference in your preparation from when you played Brady to when you face Rodgers?

EW: No, all you can do is practice hard, watch film and carry it over into the game. They’re both great at what they do.

LL: Not a lot of us have a chance to be an NFL safety. What’s the best part of your job - running back an interception for a touchdown or laying a big hit on a receiver coming across the middle?

EW: Definitely a pick for a touchdown. The turnover puts points on the board. I’ll take that any day of the week.

LL: Why do you think it’s important for college athletes to give back to their communities?

EW: We are in the position to help out, and it’s not only good for the kids and the people we help and service, but for us. Being able to give back to others and knowing that you are fortunate for what we have is important - just to understand that you are able to help out and give back.

LL: When you were in college, what specifically did you do to help out in your community?

EW: I helped out at food banks and the detention centers and correction facilities for kids that were in trouble. I worked in special education because that’s what I got my degree in; I worked one-on-one with kids with learning disabilities to help find ways to better educate them. It was great; it was an awesome experience. I love working with kids.

LL: What was your reaction when you found out you were named to the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team? Were you aware that people kept track of such things?

EW: I didn’t. I was awarded it and it’s cool to see that there’s stuff out there like that. It’s important to know that there’s a lot of good stuff that athletes do out there and people and general - to hear about stories like what they do with their extra time.

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