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Former Raven Ihedigbo inks two year deal with Lions

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Former Raven Ihedigbo inks two year deal with Lions

Posted on 25 March 2014 by WNST Staff

Nearly two full weeks into the new league year, one of the Baltimore Ravens’ top free agents has finally found a new home.

Safety James Ihedigbo, a notable contributor to the Super Bowl XLVII championship team made the announcement about his future Tuesday night via Twitter.

Ihedigbo inked a two year deal in Detroit according to multiple reports. The safety had visited Motown early in the free agent process and the team hosted two other free agent safeties before a deal was reached.

The former UMass standout joins former Ravens secondary coach Teryl Austin in Detroit, Austin was named Defensive Coordinator in January after former Ravens Offensive Coordinator Jim Caldwell replaced Jim Schwartz (Mt. St. Joseph) as the team’s head coach.

Ihedigbo was a very pleasant surprise during his tenure in Charm City, signing just before the start of the 2012 season after being released by the New England Patriots. He immediately made an impact on Special Teams and later on the defensive side of the ball en route to playing in his second straight Super Bowl.

The former undrafted free agent was extremely valuable for the Ravens’ secondary in 2013, starting all 16 games at strong safety after the team’s acquisition of former Oakland Raiders S Michael Huff proved fruitless. Ihedigbo tallied 101 tackles, his first three career interceptions and forced two fumbles.

After the 2013 season, Ihedigbo told WNST.net he played for the league minimum in Baltimore and felt he had “outplayed his contract”. Both he and the Ravens admitted rookie Matt Elam likely played out of position last year at free safety, making it logical for Ihedigbo to end up finding work elsewhere and the 2013 first round pick to shift to the strong safety position.

The Ravens have thus far failed to find a new starting free safety although they did add depth to the position by signing former St. Louis Ram Darian Stewart last week. Other safeties on the roster include younger players who have mostly been special teams contributors like Brynden Trawick, Jeromy Miles, Omar Brown and Anthony Levine.

New Ravens secondary coach Steve Spagnuolo has also lost cornerback Corey Graham to Buffalo via free agency.

The only unrestricted Ravens free agents remaining on the market are TE Ed Dickson, DL Terrence Cody, RB Bernard Scott and TE Dallas Clark. WR Brandon Stokley announced his intention to retire at the end of the 2013 season. Of the group, only Dickson has reportedly been offered a deal to return to Baltimore.

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Ravens secondary coach Austin hired as Lions defensive coordinator

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Ravens secondary coach Austin hired as Lions defensive coordinator

Posted on 16 January 2014 by Luke Jones

In a move not unexpected following the hiring of Jim Caldwell as their new head coach, the Detroit Lions have come to an agreement with Ravens secondary coach Teryl Austin to become their new defensive coordinator.

The team officially announced the hiring on Friday.

Austin’s departure is a blow to the defensive coaching staff after he did an impressive job with the development of several young defensive backs including Lardarius Webb, Jimmy Smith, and former Raven Cary Williams. The 48-year-old Austin took over as the Baltimore secondary coach in 2011 when Chuck Pagano was promoted to defensive coordinator.

His roots with Caldwell extend beyond their two years with the Ravens as the pair coached together at Penn State and Wake Forest in the early 1990s.

Head coach John Harbaugh could have an in-house candidate to take Austin’s place in senior defensive assistant Steve Spagnuolo, who spent three years as the defensive backs coach in Philadelphia from 2001 through 2003. Formerly the head coach of the St. Louis Rams who also spent time as a defensive coordinator for both the New York Giants and the New Orleans Saints, Spagnuolo would have to decide whether the secondary coach role would be the right fit for his career path.

The last two secondary coaches under Harbaugh eventually became defensive coordinators with Pagano even advancing a step further to become the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts. Such a track record under Harbaugh might entice Spagnuolo to take the position if offered, even if he desires to once again be a coordinator and head coach in the future.

Harbaugh credited the 54-year-old Spagnuolo as a helpful sounding board on game days as well as an asset to defensive coordinator Dean Pees during the 2013 season.

“I think Dean would tell you something along the lines that he was a big help to Dean as far as — not so much building the package — but studying the opponents and creating a few ideas and some insights that were a little bit different than what we’ve had here in the past and contributed in that way,” Harbaugh said. “I think Dean really came to appreciate Steve’s role in the defensive room there a little bit. The thing about Steve is he’s never really threatening to anybody. He respects all the other coaches. He just tried to help out where he could.”

In addition to continuing the search for their next offensive coordinator, the Ravens must now fill their secondary coach, running backs coach, and — if they choose — quarterbacks coach positions.

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Examining possible offensive coordinator candidates for Ravens

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Examining possible offensive coordinator candidates for Ravens

Posted on 14 January 2014 by Luke Jones

With Tuesday’s news of offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell accepting the head coaching position with the Detroit Lions, the Ravens must now seek a new leader for an offense already expected to undergo significant change this offseason.

Unlike the last time the Ravens were in this position following the dismissal of Cam Cameron on Dec. 10, 2012, there doesn’t appear to be an obvious in-house replacement in mind in the same way that they promoted Caldwell from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator. Wide receivers coach Jim Hostler served as the offensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers in 2007, but the organization is expected to at least seriously explore outside options in an effort to breathe new life into an offense that finished 29th in total yards and 25th in points scored in 2013.

In addition to finding a new running backs coach following the news earlier this month that Wilbert Montgomery would not be returning, head coach John Harbaugh and the Ravens will likely need to find a new secondary coach as Teryl Austin is expected to join Caldwell in Detroit as his new defensive coordinator.

Here is a preliminary list of some candidates as the Ravens begin their search for a third offensive coordinator in the last 13 months:

Jim Hostler, Ravens wide receivers coach
Skinny: The only internal candidate with experience as an offensive coordinator, Hostler is well-respected within the organization, but he doesn’t appear to have a great chance to be promoted since the Ravens passed on him in favor of Caldwell, who had never been an offensive coordinator prior to taking over the duties late in the 2012 season. His lone year as a coordinator in San Francisco was regarded as disastrous with the 49ers finishing last in the NFL in total yards and points scored before he was fired.

Rob Chudzinkski, former Browns head coach
Skinny: Regardless of what really happened in the 45-year-old’s lone season as the Cleveland head coach, Chudzinski’s work as the offensive coordinator in Carolina and in Cleveland before that was highly respected, making it likely that he won’t remain unemployed for long. As for any reservations in hiring someone who was so recently dismissed as a head coach, both Cameron and Caldwell were hired only weeks after being fired from a previous head coaching gig.

Brad Childress, Chiefs spread game analyst
Skinny: The former Vikings head coach has ties with Harbaugh dating back to their days together in Philadelphia, which makes him someone worth keeping an eye on in the search. Childress hasn’t found much success in recent years as a head coach or as an offensive coordinator — he was fired after one season in Cleveland in 2012 –but a 40-year-old Brett Favre had one of the best seasons of his career working with Childress in 2009, cementing the coach’s strong reputation with quarterbacks.

Norv Turner, Browns offensive coordinator
Skinny: Respected as one of the great offensive minds of this generation, the 61-year-old Turner remains under contract with Cleveland but would be an excellent candidate if made available once the Browns hire a new coach. His track record as an NFL head coach is underwhelming, but he’s worked with great quarterbacks such as Troy Aikman and Philip Rivers in the past and would be viewed as a major asset for Joe Flacco in trying to revitalize the offense.

Gary Kubiak, former Texans head coach
Skinny: The 52-year-old spent eight years in Houston before being fired in December, making one wonder if he might choose to take a year off from coaching even though he interviewed for Detroit’s head coaching vacancy earlier this month. He had a sterling reputation working as Mike Shanahan’s right-hand man and offensive coordinator in Denver for a decade and is still viewed as a talented offensive mind if he’s interested in being a coordinator again.

 

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Reed focused on football despite uncertain future with Ravens

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Reed focused on football despite uncertain future with Ravens

Posted on 01 August 2012 by Luke Jones

It was a rocky offseason for Ed Reed, filled with cryptic comments about retirement and hints about his desire for a long-term contract.

The mercurial safety skipped a mandatory minicamp without informing the Ravens and suggested he might hold out at the start of training camp.

But after all the talk suggesting disenchantment, you’d never know the 11-year veteran was unhappy watching him on the practice field in Owings Mills this past week — after he reported to camp on time. Whether laughing it up with teammates about professional wrestling or picking off yet another pass as Ravens fans have seen countless times, the 33-year-old is still having a blast playing football.

Entering the final year of a six-year contract that will pay him $7.2 million in 2012, Reed made it known Wednesday where he wants to be beyond this season.

“The talks have already been there,” Reed said. “I know Ozzie [Newsome] and them know I want to be here. We will get that done when it’s time to cross that bridge. I’m dealing with football right now, and they know that.”

Acknowledging that conducting negotiations during the season would be difficult since he doesn’t have an agent, Reed seemed content with reevaluating the situation next winter. He admitted the nerve impingement in his neck and shoulder he’s been dealing with since the end of the 2007 season is still a very real concern, one he considered while weighing his decision to return this season.

Last year, the eight-time Pro Bowl safety played in all 16 regular-season games for the first time since 2008 despite dealing with a shoulder stinger sustained in a Monday night loss at Jacksonville. However, Reed accumulated only three interceptions and seemed increasingly hesitant in making tackles that would put his shoulder at risk.

A strong postseason defused concerns about his declining ability, but many still wonder how much the future Hall of Fame safety has left.

“They know I am assessing myself year to year,” Reed said. “Would I like to play more? Of course, but what the body tells you is something different. That’s something that you always deal with after the season.”

As Reed stewed over his future during the offseason — drawing criticism for contradictory comments often made in the same interviews — the organization remained quiet while giving the safety time to think and reflect on where he was at this point in his career and life.

The expectation was always the same, no matter who you asked. Reed would be on the football field when all the dust settled.

“The one thing about Ed is he’s a professional,” secondary coach Teryl Austin said. “[He] loves this game, prepares like no other, and to stay away from it would probably have been really hard for him. But I’m glad he’s back with us, moving full speed ahead.”

For now, all appears to be forgotten with Reed appearing as healthy as can be at this point in his career and performing at the same level in practice the Ravens have seen for years. On Wednesday, Reed shined during an 11-on-11 session, breaking up a pass intended for wide receiver Jacoby Jones and grabbing an interception on the final play of a drive.

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