Ravens' new assistant has the need for speed

FitzGerald promises he, linebackers will `move fast'

Pro Football

January 23, 2004|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Describing his style as fast, Ravens outside linebackers coach Jeff FitzGerald said he looks forward to his new job with a team he believes can contend for the Super Bowl.

FitzGerald, who is at the Senior Bowl practices in Mobile, Ala., comes to the Ravens after four seasons on the defensive staff of the Arizona Cardinals and will work with linebackers coach Mike Singletary. The team's outside linebackers include a Pro Bowl player (Peter Boulware) and the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year (Terrell Suggs).

"There's tremendous excitement about being with this organization," said FitzGerald, 42. "The feeling that I have is that there is one goal. And the one goal is the one goal that it should be with every team, and that is to go to the Super Bowl.

"I like to move fast, and I like my players to move fast. We try to get a lot of work done in a short period of time. I stress different areas of the game that are pertinent to the things that they can do."

FitzGerald has 22 years of coaching experience, including 11 in the NFL. He coached linebackers the past three years in Arizona before Cardinals coach Dave McGinnis and his staff were fired at the end of the regular season.

FitzGerald also worked with Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Nolan for two seasons (1998, 1999) with the Washington Redskins as a defensive assistant/linebackers coach.

"I feel as though I do a good job teaching guys," FitzGerald said. "I like it when guys need work in certain areas that jump out. Usually, you're looking at guys and you're cleaning up some spots in a little part of their game. Other guys need to learn a larger segment - perhaps pass coverage as an example. I welcome that challenge."

Meanwhile, secondary coach Donnie Henderson may have to wait until after the Super Bowl before learning if the New York Jets want him as defensive coordinator.

Henderson interviewed with Jets coach Herm Edwards 15 days ago. Philadelphia Eagles linebackers coach Ron Rivera interviewed yesterday, and the Jets are interested in talking with New England Patriots secondary coach Eric Mangini, but that would not take place until after the Super Bowl.

It is believed that Rivera, because of his Northern California connections with Edwards, is the leading candidate, but Henderson said, "I feel like I'm still in the mix."

Offensive line coach Jim Colletto will remain with the Ravens after the Chicago Bears selected Terry Shea to be their offensive coordinator. The Bears had asked permission to speak with Colletto about that job.

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