New Ravens wide receiver Houshmandzadeh speaks

Veteran says he's 'where I need to be,' looks forward to not facing Ravens' defense

September 08, 2010|By Edward Lee, The Baltimore Sun

Getting familiar with the Ravens' playbook is the first priority for wide receiver T.J.Houshmandzadeh. Getting comfortable with his new team's colors is another objective.

"It was a little weird when I tried my helmet on today," the team's newest offensive addition said at a Tuesday afternoon news conference at the team's training facility in Owings Mills. "I'm not a person that really likes change. I'm starting to realize that about myself. But sometimes change is better."

After eight seasons of playing against them as a member of the Cincinnati Bengals and one year with the Seattle Seahawks, Houshmandzadeh gets to line up with the Ravens, who agreed to a one-year, $855,000 deal.

Houshmandzadeh, who will wear No. 84, sounded relieved he wouldn't have to decipher defenses led by linebacker Ray Lewis and safety Ed Reed.

"I know Baltimore. I know what these guys bring to the table because I've played against them," Houshmandzadeh said. "I've sat in rooms when the coaches had to game-plan against these guys, and I know how stressful it is for those guys because I've been on the opposite side of that and of how much stress that defense puts on people. So, to be on that side and not have to deal with it and worry about what protection is going to pick this up and what protection is going to pick that up, it's great. I feel like I'm coming to play with guys that are similar with me emotionally, the way they play the game and how they love the game. And that's where I need to be."

Houshmandzadeh joins a team with Super Bowl aspirations and an offense that has potent weapons in wide receivers Anquan Boldin and Derrick Mason, running back Ray Rice and tight end Todd Heap.

When Donte' Stallworth returns from a broken foot next month, finding playing time for the top four wide receivers could be a chore. But Houshmandzadeh said that won't be an issue.

"We'll see what happens, but I'm a firm believer that if you show the coaches that they should get you involved, they'll get you involved, and that's what I plan on doing every day when it's time to practice," he said.

Perhaps the lone knock regarding the addition of Houshmandzadeh is that he is a possession-type receiver, similar to Boldin and Mason. With Stallworth on the sideline, there is no prototypical "vertical threat."

But Houshmandzadeh dismissed that notion, saying: "If one guy is running this route, then the next guy will run that route. I feel like I can run every route, and I'm sure that ‘Mase' and ‘Quan' feel the same way. Just throw the ball, and we'll make a play. That's how I feel, and I'm sure that's how those guys feel also."

Houshmandzadeh said he planned to walk upstairs after the news conference to visit with the offensive coaches and delve into the playbook. Despite having just four days of practice before the team's opener against the New York Jets on Monday night, Houshmandzadeh is expected to play.

"One of the other interesting things about it is he's been in this system before," said wide receivers coach Jim Hostler, who introduced Houshmandzadeh at the conference. "So Monday night, when we line up, there will be some familiarity with what we're doing, and he'll go out there and do what he can do against the Jets. From that standpoint, he'll fit right into our system. He'll be able to play all three spots. We're going to get him ready to do whatever we need him to do to go win."

That Houshmandzadeh was available was somewhat surprising, as he led the Seahawks in receptions (79) and receiving yards (911) last season. But Seattle decided to go with a youth movement and released the 32-year-old Saturday.

Houshmandzadeh, who called it "refreshing" to leave a team that had five wins last season and join a team that has advanced to the playoffs the past two years, said his departure was not related to his productivity.

"Nobody on that team beat me out," he said. "[If] they're honest with themselves, they know that. If you watch practice, it's obvious, but [for] whatever reason, they did what they did. I'm not going to comment on it and get to throwing rocks because I just don't want to. But that's what they felt like they needed to do. You guys will see what I can do."

Houshmandzadeh has made one playoff appearance in nine seasons, but he's hoping the change of scenery will change that.

"I've been on a lot of losing teams in my career," he said. "So this team had a great shot. There's only five or six teams every year that have a legitimate shot to win a Super Bowl, and that's just what people think. You've still got to go do it, and this is one of the teams — even if I wasn't here — that had a shot. So for me to come here and for them to accept me and want me on the team, I'm just going to try to do my part."

Notes: Houshmandzadeh said he talked to Lewis before signing with the Ravens but that the 11-time Pro Bowl selection didn't really pitch the idea of playing for the Ravens. "His thing was, if you want to win, this is the place to be," Houshmandzadeh said. "And he doesn't have to tell me that because I've played against him, I know what they bring to the table. So his recruiting, it wasn't recruiting. It was just more of a conversation." … The Ravens worked out cornerback Chevis Jackson on Tuesday. Jackson, a third-round pick in 2008, was released by the Atlanta Falcons after being the team's nickel back for most of the past two seasons.… The New England Patriots announced Tuesday that they had signed Prince Miller, an undrafted rookie cornerback who spent the preseason with the Ravens, to their practice squad.

Baltimore Sun reporter Jamison Hensley contributed to this article.

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