As the Ravens and Patriots prepare for this Sunday's matchup at M&T Bank Stadium, both teams can lean on a player in their secondary to glean some information about their opponent's approach.
The Ravens signed veteran safety James Ihedigbo just before the start of the season after he was released by New England. Ihedigbo started 12 games last season for the Patriots.
Soon after the Ravens signed Ihedigbo, the Patriots added undrafted rookie Cyhl Quarles to their practice squad on Sept. 12. Quarles spent all of training camp with the Ravens before he was released on final cutdown day.
Both teams could look to the safeties for some insight heading into Sunday.
"There's always value to that, sure," Head Coach John Harbaugh said.
Harbaugh joked that the Patriots are pressing Quarles for the inside scoop about the Ravens' defense.
"I'm sure that he's being put under the bright lights right now, being interrogated," Harbaugh said.
Ihedigbo dismissed the idea that he would be able to provide any grand insight into the Patriots defensive schemes or approach.
"That hasn't taken place at all," Ihedigbo said. "They're so well coached that anything I knew from last year, how beneficial would it be this year? We're just preparing for what we see on film this year and getting prepared to play."
A key difference with the two players is that Ihedigbo could likely play a key role in the Ravens secondary this week, while Quarles will only see time on the practice field. Ihedigbo could end up getting the start if safety Bernard Pollard is out with a rib injury he sustained last week against Philadelphia.
"James is a smart player, tough kid, plays well in the kicking game, defensively," Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick said. "[He is] very intelligent, can handle checks and adjustments and all of those kinds of things."
It's unclear how much insight a former player can really provide about his old team, as the Ravens and Patriots have swapped players like this in the past.
In 2009, the Ravens traded linebacker Prescott Burgess to New England two weeks before the teams faced off against one another. The Patriots then cut Burgess from the active roster and signed him to the practice squad in the week leading up to the game against Baltimore.
A day after that game, which the Patriots won 27-21, the Ravens re-signed Burgess off the Patriots practice squad and placed him on the active roster.