Ryan keeps his head in the game

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Despite interest by other teams, Ravens coordinator says focus on Dolphins

January 02, 2009|By Edward Lee and Mike Preston | Edward Lee and Mike Preston,edward.lee@baltsun.com and mike.preston@baltsun.com

Although Rex Ryan is appreciative of the New York Jets' request for permission to interview him for their head coaching vacancy, the Ravens' defensive coordinator said he is concentrating on the team's AFC wild-card playoff game Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.

According to an NFL source, the Detroit Lions and St. Louis Rams have expressed preliminary interest in Ryan.

"Every coach would like to be a head coach in the National Football League. That would be a goal for anybody, I would imagine," Ryan said. "But right now, my focus is strictly on us preparing for Miami and these playoffs. I've prepared all my life to become a head coach, and if somebody sees fit to give me that opportunity, that would be great. If not, then I'll stay here with this organization and our players and our coaches, and I'd be happy."

The Jets, who fired Eric Mangini on Monday, have compiled a list of candidates that includes former Denver Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan and New York Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.

Ryan, 46, has been the architect of a defense that has finished no worse than sixth in the NFL in yards allowed, ninth in rushing and 10th in first downs. He interviewed for head coaching vacancies with the Ravens, Dolphins and Atlanta Falcons almost a year ago before returning to the Ravens.

Cornerback Samari Rolle agreed that Ryan would make a good head coach, but he acknowledged that he would rather see Ryan stay.

"It would definitely be hard" to see him go, Rolle said. "But that happens in this business. It's like switching teams. It happens."

Because the Ravens are in the playoffs, the Jets - or any other prospective employer - cannot interview Ryan yet.

"I hope they've got to wait until after the Super Bowl - if somebody wants me," he said. "That's the real deal there."

Injury report

Rolle was the only Ravens player to sit out a second straight day of practice. Rolle is dealing with an ankle/foot injury, but he is expected to play against Miami.

Five other players who missed practice Wednesday - free safety Ed Reed (hamstring), wide receiver Derrick Mason (sore trapezius muscle/dislocated left shoulder), cornerback Fabian Washington (hyperextended toe), linebacker Jarret Johnson (left calf) and defensive tackle Justin Bannan (foot) - were upgraded to limited participation.

Also limited were wide receiver Mark Clayton (knee), right guard Chris Chester (back), linebacker Antwan Barnes (strained pectoral muscle), running back Ray Rice (left shin bruise), safety Tom Zbikowski (thigh) and kicker Matt Stover (sprained right ankle).

End zone

Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron also sidestepped a question about his aspiration to become a head coach again. "There may be a time for that discussion," he said. "I am zeroed in and focused on the responsibility I have here, and my commitment is to that. For any of us to talk about ourselves at this point is really counterproductive."

Asked to explain Reed's play in December, which included three games of at least two interceptions each, Ryan joked: "I think it's coaching. I really do." Later, Ryan lobbied to name Reed the NFL Defensive Player of the Year. "I know it's tough," Ryan said. "The kid in Dallas [outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware] had the 20 sacks and stuff, but he's watching Ed Reed play. So I think you give it to the playoff guy. Go ahead and just give it to Ed."

Quarterback Joe Flacco was asked whether the Ravens or Dolphins have a more effective Wildcat formation. "We do," Flacco said, drawing laughs from a group of reporters. "That stuff, we feel like it adds to our game and gives us a chance to do a lot more things."

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