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'Aura' Around Ravens Enticed Marcus Spears


When Marcus Spears hit the free agent market, his aim was to end up with a contending team and make a decision as quickly as possible.

A few teams showed interest – the Chiefs, Jaguars and Patriots – and when Spears heard that the Ravens were one of them, he had his mind set on Baltimore.

"To be honest with you, it didn't take me any time once I heard Baltimore wanted to sign me," Spears said Tuesday on a conference call with the Baltimore media. "That was it. I wanted to try to get it done with the Ravens, and we were able to, and I'm happy about it."

The Ravens signed Spears to a two-year contract Monday reportedly worth $3.55 million.

Before signing the deal, Spears visited the Under Armour Performance Center to meet with the coaching staff and General Manager Ozzie Newsome, and the visit only solidified his desire to make Baltimore to be his next stop.

"There's just an aura around the whole organization," he said. "Everybody has a quiet confidence about what they can get done. They go about their business. They work hard. They practice hard. The guys are close."

The Ravens will be just the second team that Spears has played for during his nine years in the NFL, and the change of scenery is a welcomed move for the Cowboys' former first-round pick.

"I've seen how the city has welcomed me and responded to me signing, and it just has me to an excitement level [where] you almost feel like a rookie again," Spears said. "It gives you the opportunity to be new, new scenery, a new team. They do things differently around there."

Part of the draw for Spears to come to Baltimore was the fact that the team is a proven winner with star power on both sides of the ball. Not only is he excited about playing alongside defenders like Haloti Ngata and Terrell Suggs, but teaming up with quarterback Joe Flacco was an attractive selling point too.

"We have an elite quarterback," Spears said. "You just credit them to being a really good football team and contenders every year with an opportunity to win the big show. So, to be a part of that is a no-brainer for a guy like me that is going into my ninth year because we are all striving to try to get that hardware."

Signing Spears is part of an overall strategy by the Ravens to bolster their defensive front. He and fellow veteran lineman Chris Canty were brought in to give the Ravens depth along the line and also to help improve a unit that ranked 20th in the league last season against the run.

"I take a lot of pride in teams not running the football on the defense that I'm playing on," Spears said. "If you can't stop the run, you have a long season ahead of you as a football team."

Spears said that he feels most comfortable playing defensive end in a 3-4 scheme, but also acknowledged that the Ravens rotate their alignments consistently so he's going to have to be flexible in what he can do.

If the Ravens want to use Spears at defense end, then he would likely compete with Canty, Arthur Jones and Pernell McPhee for playing time. The Ravens could also move him inside at times to play nose tackle and challenge Terrence Cody for reps.

"You have to be flexible, and I think that's what gives us a great chance to be good up front is that a lot of guys can play a lot of different positions," Spears said. "When you have that flexibility, I think it gives you an opportunity to play a bunch of guys and keep guys fresh."

Spears has spent most of his career in a 3-4, but the Cowboys switched to a 4-3 scheme last season and Spears didn't have as strong of a season. He finished the year with 35 tackles, one sack and two tackles for loss.

Moving back into a 3-4 with the Ravens is a preferred adjustment, and is an attractive part of joining the defending Super Bowl champions.

"It seemed like a great fit for me," Spears said. "It was a pretty easy decision to make." 

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