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Notebook: Position Battles, Potential Free Agency Moves

Posted Apr 3, 2014

John Harbaugh talked about Sam Koch's future, backup QBs, free agent TEs and tough free agent losses.


Head Coach John Harbaugh chatted with reporters Tuesday before some of his coaches gave a football tutorial to local reporters.

Harbaugh provided updates on several potential position battles and where the team stands in free agency with some needs still remaining.

Here’s a roundup of what Harbaugh had to say:

Sam Koch Is Staying

There has been media speculation that punter Sam Koch could be a salary-cap casualty, but Harbaugh debunked that notion.

“Sam is our punter,” Harbaugh said.

“I’ve seen a lot of speculation about that being a cap casualty, but I don’t anticipate that being the case at all. Sam doesn’t make that much for one thing – just ask him. Sam’s a heck of a punter.”

According to multiple reports, Koch is scheduled to make $2.2 million in salary next year. Releasing him would free up just $1.6 million in cap space and the Ravens aren’t that tight against the limit as of now.

While Koch ranked 13th in average yards per punt (46.0) last year, which is impacted by a number of factors, he was asked to do more in terms of directional punts. He is still widely considered one of the best punters in the game.

Harbaugh said the team is not ruling out bringing in competition, however.

“We can bring competition in here, just like a lot of other positions, just like running back,” he said. “Sam will have to still be the best punter here.”

Monitoring Former Kubiak Quarterbacks

Harbaugh said there is no news to report on adding a backup quarterback, but the team is still monitoring the market and looking to drafting one.

“The draft will be a big part of that, but there’s also some veteran quarterbacks out there that we like,” he said. “We want to find the right fit, the right kind of guy. There are a couple guys that Coach [Kubiak] has got some history with that could be a possible fit for us.”

Kubiak had T. Case Keenum and T.J. Yates last year in Houston. One could be released considering the Texans signed Ryan Fitzpatrick and are expected to draft a quarterback in the first round. Free agents Rex Grossman and Dan Orlovsky also played under Kubiak at one time.

Harbaugh expressed his confidence in starter Joe Flacco and backup Tyrod Taylor.

“We don’t need to find a starter. We have a very capable backup quarterback right now, a guy that we believe in,” Harbaugh said. “Something could happen here pretty soon. We’ll see. We’re talking to guys, we’re working at it.”

Tight End Could Be Drafted Or Signed

The Ravens brought back Dennis Pitta, but are still in the hunt for another tight end.

Harbaugh told reporters at the NFL owners meetings that the Ravens are interested in and talking to former Houston Texans tight end Owen Daniels and their own unrestricted free agent Ed Dickson.

On Tuesday, Harbaugh said the Ravens will look to both the draft and free agency for a solution.

“Turn over every stone,” Harbaugh said. “We’ve talked about Owen, we’ve talked about Ed. There are a couple other guys we’re talking about. We’re talking to both of those guys right now. We feel like it’s a pretty good draft with tight ends.”

Corey Graham Is A ‘Big Loss’

With the amount of money that defensive tackle Arthur Jones got from the Colts, it wasn’t too surprising he didn’t return to Baltimore.

One player that got away the Ravens likely anticipated having a shot at keeping is cornerback and special teams dynamo Corey Graham. However, he ended up getting a reported four-year, $16 million deal from his hometown Buffalo Bills.

“Corey’s a big loss for us,” Harbaugh said.

Chykie Brown, a 2010 fifth-round pick, and Asa Jackson, a 2012 fifth-round pick, are currently the leading candidates for the third cornerback spot.

“Chykie is coming on. We have a lot of confidence in Chykie’s potential. He’s got to do it with some consistency, and he knows that,” Harbaugh said.

“Asa Jackson, he’s been suspended too much. But he’s got talent. He’s a tough little guy in there. We’ve got to add a corner, at least one to make our team, and we need to add some competition also.”

Right Tackle Competition Will Be Strong

One of the best training camp battles will be at right tackle, where it seems Rick Wagner and Jah Reid will get the first crack at the starting job with a rookie also potentially in the mix.

Harbaugh was asked for an update on the competition as of now.

“It’s going to be high. It’s going to be a battle,” he said. “Right now, the way it stands, I think it’s going to come down a little bit to those young guys.”

Harbaugh is also reserving the option to move left guard Kelechi Osemele out to right tackle, where he played all 16 regular-season games in 2012.

If that’s the case, Harbaugh said Ryan Jensen, a sixth-round draft pick last year who never suited up for a game in part due to an early foot injury, is in the conversation at left guard.

Harbs Staying Out Of Voluntary Player Workouts

There’s been a lot of buzz about whether Flacco will hold a players-only workout with his receivers to try to get on the same page before minicamps begin.

Wide receiver Torrey Smith said the group is planning a connect, but that it’s difficult to juggle schedules and get enough people present. So the timing and location are still works in progress.

Harbaugh can’t be involved, as much as he’d like to , because the Collective Bargaining Agreement doesn’t allow coach-player contact, outside of essentially exchanging pleasantries, until April 21.

“I think that’s up to the guys. That’s up to the players,” Harbaugh said.

“I think all the guys have expressed a desire to get back at it. They’re chomping at the bit. We had four offensive linemen here doing squats at 7:30 a.m., getting after it in our weight room. So that was kind of exciting just to walk through and see that. There are some logistics to it. Joe has told me he wants to do it; the players have all said they want to do it. When it happens, how it happens, that’s up to them.”

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