Ivy hasn't lost Ravens' confidence

Injuries and young talent cast doubt on cornerback

Pro football

June 07, 2007|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,Sun reporter

Days after this year's draft, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti walked into a meeting room filled with the cornerbacks from last season's roster and made one thing clear: The front office did not select a defensive back because it was satisfied with the Ravens' current group.

Those were comforting words to Corey Ivy.

Although Ivy played a pivotal role as the defense's nickel back last season, some football analysts had wondered whether he would return to the same position after enduring an injury-hindered year and with the Ravens featuring a plethora of young talent.

But Ivy said he is fully recovered from a lacerated kidney that forced him to miss three games last season, and defensive coordinator Rex Ryan confirmed that Ivy is still the first choice when opposing offenses go to a three wide-receiver set.

"That does give me a sense of more responsibility," Ivy said. "It shows that they're going to lean on me a little bit more to hold down that position."

Ivy, 30, held on to that status last season despite the presence of young cornerbacks Ronnie Prude, Evan Oglesby and Derrick Martin. Even though he had just one interception, Ivy recorded 17 tackles, six pass deflections, two sacks and two forced fumbles.

Even Ryan, who coached Ivy at the University of Oklahoma, said he would've been hard-pressed to envision the 5-foot-9, 188-pound Ivy having this kind of career in the NFL.

"This is a size-speed league, and those are two attributes that Corey doesn't have," Ryan said. "Corey can run, but he can't run like some of these guys. With his size, he's short. He's still a big man, but he's just short. Most guys are taller than he is and faster and all of that kind of stuff. But he finds a way to make it work.

"You can't measure that heart," Ryan continued, tapping his chest, "the determination, the willingness to work and study and be a professional. I think those are his main attributes."

Those qualities surfaced last year when Ivy suffered a lacerated kidney in a Monday night game against the Denver Broncos on Oct. 9. Ivy was in discomfort on the return flight and the plane landed in Pittsburgh so Ivy could be taken to the hospital. His status for the remainder of the season was uncertain, but he returned Nov. 12 against the Tennessee Titans.

"I feel good," Ivy said. "Last year after the injury, I was kind of hesitant in some areas about taking a shot. But I got a clean bill of health and am ready to go and try to better what we did last year."

Still, Ivy is aware that his younger teammates are eager to impress the coaching staff and take his job. It's a challenge that Ivy embraces.

"Everybody has a challenge out there," he said. "That's why you're out here - to compete and try to make yourself better and the team better."

Notes -- Ten-time Pro Bowl offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden spent his second straight day in uniform but off the field during the second day of the team's minicamp yesterday. Ogden said Dr. Robert Anderson, a foot and ankle specialist and team orthopedist for the Carolina Panthers, told him that the big toe on his left foot that he hyperextended against the Cleveland Browns on Dec. 17 would take four to six months to heal. Coach Brian Billick said the organization was aware of Ogden's health status. "We had no anticipation of him being ready for OTAs [organized team activities]," Billick said. "Just being around here, we appreciate that Jonathan's here, but our expectations were for him not to be ready to go until training camp, and we may very well adjust that first week of training camp to make sure that we've got a firm footing underneath him." ... Linebackers Mike Smith (shoulder), Dan Cody (knee) and Dennis Haley (unspecified) and cornerback David Pittman (hamstring) also missed yesterday's practice. ... Wide receiver Mark Clayton returned after missing Tuesday's session to tend to a family matter.edward.lee@baltsun.com

Sun reporter Jamison Hensley contributed to this article.

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