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Lardarius Webb has noticed a difference this offseason.
“I always used to try to talk, but I didn’t know how much they were listening,” the Ravens cornerback said Thursday, drawing laughter from the media.
But when Webb came into workouts as the team’s clear-cut No. 1 cornerback with a brand new $50 million contract, he’s seen an increased level of respect from his teammates.
“When I have something to say, it seems like they listen,” Webb said. “Their eyes are really paying attention now. It probably took the contract, I guess, for it to happen, but it really does seem like they listen just a little bit more, and I’m happy with it.”
Webb is emerging as one of the bright young talents on the Ravens’ defense, and said he’s also looking to step into more of a leadership role. That’s part of the reason he decided to participate in the voluntary offseason program.
“Since we’re here together, we’re bonding right now, and the guys, we’re just close now,” he said.
On the football field, Webb also has expectations to continue elevating his level of play.
Last year was his first as a full-time starter, and he played himself into the Pro Bowl discussion with five interceptions, 20 passes defended and 68 tackles. He added three more interceptions in the playoffs and caught the attention of teams around the league.
He’s hoping to put up even better numbers this year and get the recognition for those efforts.
“The next step, I would like to make All-Pro,” Webb said. “I would like to be in a Pro Bowl.”
With Webb developing into a premier cornerback last season, the Ravens pass defense proved to be one of the league’s best against the pass, ranking fourth in the NFL by giving up 196.3 yards per game.
In addition to Webb, the Ravens also have budding cornerbacks Cary Williams and Jimmy Smith, veteran strong safety Bernard Pollard and future Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed in the defensive backfield, which is why Webb recently said the Ravens have the best secondary in the game.
He stood by that attitude on Thursday.
“We know that there are other great DB corps out there, but we still say that we’re the best,” Webb said.
Webb’s value to the Ravens also goes beyond his role as a cornerback.
“I would love to be a returner,” Webb said. “But, just like Ed Reed, he earned that spot to where anytime he felt like he wanted to return a punt, he can go back there and just take it. I think I might have that now, where I don’t have to do it all the time, but I think if we need a big return or we just need the ball, I can go back and grab it.
“I would love to be the punt returner full-time. I think that is my X-factor. [It] makes me a little different than the others.”
Being a playmaker on defense and special teams is part of Webb’s game and identity, he says, and he doesn’t have plans to let that change – even with the big-money contract.
“That’s what made Deion Sanders so great because he would return a kick and return a punt and return an interception to the house; that’s what made him Deion Sanders,” Webb said. “That’s what might make me Lardarius Webb – returning punts and interceptions.”