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Safety James Ihedigbo Has Eyes On Starting Job

Posted May 21, 2013

The veteran safety is also taking rookie Matt Elam under his wing.


The Ravens have overhauled their safety corps from last year’s team.

Not only are starters Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard gone, but the Ravens also parted ways with Sean Considine and Emanuel Cook.

The only safety back from the Super Bowl roster with significant playing experience is seven-year veteran James Ihedigbo. And Ihedigbo now has his eyes set on a starting job.

“I just got a great opportunity in front of me and I’m really looking forward to it,” Ihedigbo said.

To help offset the losses in the secondary, the Ravens brought in veteran Michael Huff and took Florida All-American Matt Elam in the first round of the NFL Draft. Huff and Elam are considered the favorites to win the two starting safety jobs, but Ihedigbo expects to find himself right in that mix in his second season with the Ravens.

“I want to truly be a three-down starter for this team, and to be looked at as one of those guys who is an impact player,” Ihedigbo said.

While Ihedigbo is competing for Elam for a spot on the field, he says that he’s planning to take the rookie under his wings. Ihedigbo and Huff have already talked about how they have welcomed Elam with open arms, and want to help him in any way possible.

“He’s a great kid and he’ll handle it like a man,” Ihedigbo said. “We’re excited to have him on board as well and just looking forward to us pushing each other. At the end of the day we always say that the best 11 will be on the field, no matter what the combination is.

“When I was a rookie there were guys that were in place that helped me, regardless of whether we were competing for the same spot, and it worked out for everybody. So that’s my motto.”

Helping Elam make the transition is part of the expectation Ihedigbo has for himself as a veteran on the roster. The Ravens lost a number of leaders this offseason, and Ihedigbo sees himself as an emerging voice in the locker room.

With players like Reed and Pollard gone, Ihedigbo is now an elder voice in the defensive backs meetings.

“It’s crazy how the dynamic changes, but that’s life in the NFL,” Ihedigbo said. “Being able to play with those guys, alongside them, it’s kind of like they passed the torch to me. Even though I was here for a year, now I’m looked at as an older guy and one who is supposed to lead, along with Corey Graham, and [Lardarius Webb].”

Ihedigbo, who signed with the Ravens last year after getting cut by the Patriots at the end of training camp, started three games when Pollard went down with a rib injury. He spent the bulk of his playing time on special teams, and finished the year with 19 total tackles, one sack and one pass defensed. He also had six specials teams tackles.

The Ravens re-signed him on a one-year deal this offseason, and now he has expectations of taking his role to the next level.

“It’s a great position,” Ihedigbo said. “I’m glad that I’m in this role and I’m glad that the coaching staff and front office put me in this position and can count on me.”

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