Newsome in no rush to fill hole at safety

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

Notebook

Ravens

March 23, 2006|By JAMISON HENSLEY | JAMISON HENSLEY,SUN REPORTER

Nearly two weeks into free agency, safety remains the only hole in the Ravens' starting lineup.

Based on the Ravens' inactivity, it is not considered a pressing need.

The Ravens have let a marginal class thin out to the point where only one of the top 10 free-agent safeties - Tank Williams - is still available.

"There are some safeties out there that we still like," said general manager Ozzie Newsome, who recently added that the Ravens are going to wait for the free-agent market to "settle."

Williams, 25, would appear to be the best fit for the Ravens, who have long sought out a "thumper" in the secondary. A hard-hitting defender, he helps in run support like an extra linebacker and finished third on the Tennessee Titans last season with 78 tackles.

The Ravens have yet to express any interest in Williams, his agent said.

Besides Williams, the rest of the safeties left are second-tier ones such as Deke Cooper (Jacksonville Jaguars), Tebucky Jones (Miami Dolphins), Keion Carpenter (Atlanta Falcons) and Marcus Coleman (Houston Texans).

Cooper, 28, is a strong tackler - not a mauling one - and has adequate range in coverage. Jones, 31, has lost some physical skills but still has toughness and solid instincts. Carpenter, 28, a Woodlawn High graduate, works best in coverage rather than run support. And Coleman, 31, is a converted cornerback who has lost his big-play ability.

The Ravens are looking to replace Will Demps, a four-year starter who signed with the New York Giants. The free-agent class for safeties quickly dwindled last week, when Adam Archuleta (Washington Redskins), Chris Hope (Tennessee Titans), Lawyer Milloy (Atlanta) and Dexter Jackson (Cincinnati Bengals) all switched teams.

As far as the draft, Texas' Michael Huff is the only safety projected to go in the top half of the first round, but he is considered a lock to be taken before the Ravens' No. 13 pick.

Two additions

The Ravens bolstered their special teams yesterday by agreeing to terms on three-year contracts with cornerback Corey Ivy (total worth $2.2 million) and linebacker-defensive end Gary Stills ($2.6 million).

Ivy could be an option at nickel back, a role he played last season after injuries decimated the St. Louis Rams' secondary. The six-year veteran has made his living in the NFL by being one of the game's best gunners (the player split wide on punt coverage).

Stills was a Pro Bowl special teams player in 2003 for the Kansas City Chiefs, where he played under new Ravens special teams coordinator Frank Gansz. The eight-year veteran owns the Chiefs' all-time record with 148 career special teams tackles.

"Gary and Corey provide quality depth for our defense, and they'll be core special teams players for us," Newsome said. "They bring toughness, enthusiasm and athleticism that fit right in with the Ravens' way."

End zone

There could be some competition for free-agent quarterback Kerry Collins, who has long been linked to the Ravens. Arizona Cardinals personnel executive Rod Graves said the team has spoken with Collins' agent and will weigh its interest in him against its options in the draft. ... At the University of Texas Pro Day, quarterback Vince Young ran the 40-yard dash in 4.57 seconds. He didn't do the vertical or long jumps. Quarterbacks coach Rick Neuheisel was in attendance for the Ravens. jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.