Over the last two seasons with John Harbaugh at the helm of the Baltimore Ravens, the team’s mindset on signing free agents has been to grab high energy guys who will do more than fill a roster spot; instead, they have signed guys who will “play like a Raven.”
Last week, as the Ravens’ mini camps came to an abrupt end due to an NFL ruling, the team made a move to prepare itself even more for the team’s upcoming training camp and the start of the 2010 NFL season, and continued to follow that trend.
The team signed former Pro-Bowler Ken Hamlin to a one year deal, and he is expected to not only provide depth in the secondary, he may be asked to spot start either at the corner or safety positions if several key players, guys like safety Ed Reed, Lardarius Webb, Fabian Washington, and Haruki Nakamura, can’t return from their injuries at the start of the season.
Hamlin spent a few minutes on the phone with Rex Snider on WNST yesterday to talk about his excitement in joining a defense that is really going to benefit from his prowess, and he is also looking to reciprocate that success onto Coach Greg Mattison‘s defense.
“I think I have the attitude to play in this kind of defense. It’s a mindset knowing I have to learn the defense…but it doesn’t take me long to learn. I can definitely relay that stuff to other guys. I’ve got a little experience under my belt,” he said.
Hamlin didn’t sign in time to join the team in OTAs, but he was one of several defenders brought in to try out for the team. He will be in Westminster at McDaniel College when the team’s annual training camp starts on July 26th.
He is very excited to get started here in Baltimore, and he already has been picking the brain of the star of the Baltimore defense, Ray Lewis.
“I had a conversation with Ray. I expect to talk with him a little bit more. With him being one of the biggest guys in the NFL, that’s a plus being able to reach out to him and get some pointers.”
Another guy the Ravens hope to have for Hamlin to learn from is safety Ed Reed, who with injuries to his groin, hip, neck and shoulder, has been contemplating retirement. Hamlin hopes to have Reed in camp in front of him instead of having to replace him in the starting lineup, because it would be hard to replace a future Hall of Famer in Reed.
“I think he does everything and he makes it so special to look at,” Hamlin said of Reed. “He plays the position exceptionally. He knows where to be…and has a niche to find the ball. When you have a type of guy like that, the ball falls in the right spots. And even when it doesn’t, he has the wear-about of knowing where to be, how to play the game, and how to play the position.”
But even if Reed is going to play another season, the Ravens are going to expect a Pro-Bowl type of year out of Hamlin on this defense regardless if he is in the starting lineup or not. And he is already at work trying to get himself used to how the Ravens play defense versus how the Cowboys lined up defensively the last three seasons.
“It’s going to be an adjustment,’ he said. “They play similar defenses, but at the same time, it’s a defense that has a lot of different checks that we didn’t have in Dallas. It has a lot of different adjustments.”
But he did mention that he thinks no matter how the defense sets up, it’s all about how the defense plays after the snap.
“Once you fly around and get to the ball, everything else is going to play out.”
The Ravens certainly would like to have the same Hamlin that was present in Dallas, especially the 2007 version of Hamlin, who made his only Pro Bowl after finishing with 102 tackles, 5 INTs, and 14 pass breakups.
He was two years into a six year, 38 million dollar contract before the Cowboys released him in April.
And if there is any questions about his work ethic or his toughness, he has bounced back from a near-death incident in a night club back in 2005, and has seen some tough training camps under Mike Holmgren in Seattle, the team that drafted him in 2003 in the second round out of Arkansas.
He is ready for Coach Harbaugh’s brutal practices and making sure his play on the field is as crisp as it can be.
“We’ll see how things go in this camp, but it’s going to be big on us doing things the right way.”
And now that he has a fresh start here in Baltimore, he also brings with him a good cause off the field on top of his play on Sundays.
He joins a host of Ravens with charitable foundations, and Hamlin’s is very simple but effective. The Ken Hamlin Foundation helps single parent families and their kids stay on their feet and tries to make life easier for them. Hamlin says he just wants to help in an way possible.
“I had that going in Dallas, and I look forward to bringing that to Baltimore and having an impact.”
Tune into Rex Snider from 2-6 in the afternoon on 1570 WNST for more interviews with Raven players!