Ravens ready for raid on coaches

Del Rio, M. Lewis set sights on Billick's staff

only one likely to leave

January 18, 2003|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

On the verge of losing one of their top front office members in Phil Savage, the Ravens are preparing for movement in their coaching staff, too.

Ravens coach Brian Billick confirmed yesterday that newly hired Jacksonville coach Jack Del Rio has requested permission to talk to two coaches about becoming the Jaguars' defensive coordinator and anticipated hearing from Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis for the same reason.

But Billick indicated he likely would only allow one coach to leave his 16-man staff.

"I'll do what is in the best interest of my coaches, but I have to do what is in the best interest of the organization," Billick said. "And that supercedes the former. I can't let teams just back up a loading truck and take off with half of my staff."

According to a league source, Del Rio is seeking to speak with Ravens linebackers coach Mike Smith and defensive line coach Rex Ryan. It appears that Smith has the inside track for the job.

If Smith leaves, there is speculation that Mike Singletary could become the Ravens' linebackers coach. The Ravens have contacted the Hall of Fame Chicago Bears linebacker about the potential opening, a league source said.

Singletary, who retired in 1992, has been a guest speaker at Ravens training camp in the past. His only experience has been coaching youth football for his oldest son. He was interviewed by the XFL two years ago for a head coaching position and was recently passed over to be head coach at Baylor.

Singletary did not return phone calls yesterday and Billick would neither confirm nor deny the Ravens' interest in him.

"As always, I have a plan in place," Billick said.

Lewis is still searching for a defensive coordinator after the Atlanta Falcons blocked secondary coach Emmitt Thomas from leaving yesterday. Lewis, the former Ravens defensive coordinator, may talk to Ravens secondary coach Donnie Henderson and perhaps Smith as well.

Smith was the Ravens' defensive assistant for three years before being promoted to linebackers coach this past season when Del Rio left to become the Carolina Panthers' defensive coordinator. Smith is known for his ability to analyze the tendencies of offenses and prepare scouting reports on the team's computer system.

Savage, meanwhile, is expected to be named the Jaguars' general manager in the next few days. Despite losing their director of college scouting, the Ravens said they will not be significantly harmed heading into April's draft.

"We have all the information," general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "All the reports are in. Everybody has their assignments for the bowl games that are remaining, and we are just starting to make preparations for the [NFL] combine. ... For where Phil and I got to in the process with the information, we were prepared to draft [a week ago]. That's still true.

"The way we've structured it, we probably have three of four looks at most players. We're in a situation in losing Phil that there's still three or four other guys who have looked at that player. Before we draft a player, everybody in the room looks at him. That's the way we operate."

The Ravens have been readying for the draft since October. Two of Savage's primary roles were to organize the other scouts and review grades of specific players.

"You hate to lose guys, but for Phil to get the opportunity that he's getting, I think it's great, and he deserves it," Newsome said. "We have some young, talented scouts. They are looking forward to the challenge of carrying the mantle."

NOTE: Quarterback Chris Redman had successful back surgery yesterday and is expected to be healed in time for the Ravens' offseason workout program.

Sun staff writer Brent Jones contributed to this article.

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