*Ravens offensive coordinator **Cam Cameron** sat down with BR.com for an exclusive interview regarding this week's free agent signing of center **Matt Birk**, a six-time Pro Bowler that will now work closely with Joe Flacco. *
BR.com: Cam, how excited are you to be able to add a six-time Pro Bowler after losing Jason Brown to free-agency?
Cam Cameron:"There's no question, and our fans are going to love Matt. We were looking for a center that can lead our offensive line. I feel that he's a perfect fit for **Joe [Flacco]**. He's 6-4, 6-5, and of course, with Joe being 6-6, having a taller center has some merit. This guy has great experience and has played at a high level for a long time. Ironically, I had a chance to coach him right out of college at the Blue - Gray Game. He was a so-called 'sleeper' back then. He's not a sleeper anymore. He's one of the - if not the - premier centers in this league."
As a Harvard graduate, Birk is obviously smart. Do coaches actively look for a cerebral center because that is the position that makes all the line calls?
CC:"We do, but it's not as much about intellect as it is about leadership and feel for the game. You have to have football smarts and a certain amount of intellect even to have the football smarts we want. He's proven that. We lost Jason Brown, who - I think in reality - would rather play guard than center anyway. But, we needed him to play center, and he did a nice job. Now, here's a guy that has extended experience at that position in the National Football League."
"I can't say enough about Ozzie [Newsome], Eric [DeCosta] and John Harbaugh to go out and find this guy knowing what we were looking for, and then getting him here. It's easy to find that guy, but to get him here is another thing. They delivered, and I couldn't be happier that they did."
Can you talk about how you were involved in the process, considering the Minnesota native had played his entire 11-year career with the Vikings?
CC:"Well, we showed up on his porch at 12:01, for starters. [Cameron laughs, a nod to Rex Ryan's courtship of former Ravens linebacker Bart Scott] No really, it's amazing that this came together. It was one of those situations where we had a need, and he happened to be on the free agent market. Did he want to leave Minnesota? I don't know, but he's here.
"My wife, Missy, and I went to dinner with **John Matsko** and his wife, Kim, and Matt and his wife, Adrianna, and you could see why this man is so successful. He's got a great wife that is very supportive. They're both from Minneapolis, but they were open-minded, I think. I don't want to speak for them, but I think he saw a great family environment here. That's what we're building - a team, a family. Whatever that is, I think it was appealing to him."
The Ravens signed Willie Anderson from the Bengals one week into the regular season last year. Anderson said it took him some time before he was truly comfortable in the locker room. Will having Birk here for the entire offseason help him mesh with the team?
CC:"Every guy's personality is different. Willie pulled that off very quickly, but when you meet Willie, you understand it. It might be different for a tackle, and [Matt's] the center. He's the guy making the calls, making the shotgun snap. You can be a tackle and come in at the last minute and still be successful. Tackle is very straight-forward. But, I marvel at our ability to bring people here on a consistent basis that are exactly what we're looking for. Over time, for these next few years, this is going to be a great fit for our quarterback. The snap has to be seamless. The shotgun snap has to be seamless. The quarterback is communicating at one level, and the center is communicating at another. So many things have to come together, and we couldn't have a better guy for what we want to do.
"Really, the bottom line is that he's a winner. He came here and wants to win. Guys at this stage in their career, money is one thing, winning is another. He can help us win."
With the center position now settled, are you nudging Ozzie towards some potential draft picks you hope to get?
CC:"I'd like to site here and say, 'I'm planting bugs for **Ozzie Newsome’s** ear,' but between him, John, Eric and Vince Newsome, those guys are all over it. They know what we want, and I'm not really picky about what we want on offense. We just want good football players. Look at guys like Derrick Mason, look at Mark Clayton. We've got good football players. Just go out and get those guys, and we'll find a way to use them. We don't have a system where we need to have an exact type of guy - just get us a football player. And, Matt Birk is a good football player."