Notes: Connections in Cleveland


After Hurricane Ike made the Ravens put the Houston Texans on the back burner until Nov. 9, Baltimore quickly needed to change gears and learn about the Cleveland Browns.

Luckily, there are a few similarities between the organizations that made the Ravens' transition somewhat easier.

The Ravens' relationship with Cleveland has been well-documented. Former team owner Art Modell brought the franchise from the shores of Lake Erie in 1996 for a triumphant return of professional football to Charm City.

While the Browns' records remained in Cleveland for their new team, which began play in 1999, there were certain marks of the orange-and-brown that could not be denied in the move.

Current Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome has made a name for himself as one of the top talent evaluators in the league, but he compiled a Hall of Fame career as a Browns tight end, ending a 13-year run in Cleveland as the team record-holder with 662 career catches for 7,980 yards.

Current Browns general manager Phil Savage earned his scouting chops under Newsome during a nine-year stint with the Ravens.

Both Newsome and Savage have built a stable of personnel colleagues that have scouting alumni from each team, a parallel that manifests itself in the type of players that will take the field Sunday.

"It's interesting because we've got a lot of ties to the Browns here in this building," said head coach John Harbaugh Monday. "From a scouting perspective, a lot of the players they bring in are the same type of guys, Ozzie Newsome-type of guys.

"There are scouts who were trained here in this program, and you can see what they're trying to do with their personnel."

That has helped in preparations for Baltimore's Week 3 opponent.

The Ravens' coaching staff was forced to make an abrupt shift in mindset when Ike's strong winds and rain blew through the Gulf Coast of Texas early Saturday morning.

The matchup was already postponed to Monday, but when parts of the roof on Houston's Reliant Stadium were torn off, rendering the site unplayable, the NFL decided to move kickoff to the Ravens' bye in Week 10.

Even though this is rookie head coach John Harbaugh's inaugural time facing the AFC North rival as the top man, he is noting the coaching connections heading into the first of two meetings.

Browns offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski spent the 2005-06 seasons under Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron when both were with the San Diego Chargers. There is Cleveland special teams coordinator Ted Daisher, who was Harbaugh's special teams quality control coach from 2004-05 when Harbaugh was the coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles. And, defensive coordinator Mel Tucker was a defensive backs coach at Miami (Ohio) – Harbaugh's alma mater – and Ohio State.

"[They are] a very talented football team. Their offensive coordinator has a lot of ties to Cam Cameron, so we see a lot of similarities in their offense," Harbaugh said of the winless Browns. "Their special teams coordinator has ties to us, so we see similarities in the special teams. Defensively, they've got an Ohio State guy in there running their defense, so they're trying to play physical, fundamental defense similar to what the Ravens do.

"That's a very good football team [that is] off to a rough start."

A vast coaching change this season in Baltimore makes the relationship between the many former Ravens on the Browns basically a moot point, although it is still difficult for some Ravens fans to picture running back Jamal Lewis wearing a bright orange helmet after setting franchise records in career touchdowns (47), rushing attempts (1,822) and rushing yards (7,801).

Of course, Lewis and the rest of those new Baltimore football records could never have been set if it wasn't for the Modell family.

Born in Perrysburg, Ohio, which is less than two hours from Cleveland, Harbaugh fondly recalls pulling for Modell's team growing up.

Now, Harbaugh is happy to be able to add his name to that history in Maryland.

"It's been so great for this city and for this region," the coach stated. "He's a hero in so many ways. He did everything he could to keep the franchise in Cleveland, and providence didn't make that happen. So he made the best of it, came here and made a bunch of people really happy.

"I'm proud to be a part of this organization now and be in Baltimore."

"Congrats, Jim."

After winning his first-ever game as a head coach (17-10 over the Cincinnati Bengals Sept. 7), Harbaugh made sure to call Washington Redskins rookie head coach Jim Zorn when Zorn notched the same milestone this week.

The Redskins beat the New Orleans Saints 29-24 to follow a 16-7 loss to the New York Giants in Zorn's season opener.

"That was something I couldn't wait to do after I saw their victory yesterday," Harbaugh said. "That was an honor to be able to do that. [Zorn] is a good person, and we've got a lot of respect for the program."

Neal Providing Leadership

Fullback Lorenzo Neal, who signed with the Ravens in training camp, has made an impact already. One only needs to count fellow fullback Le'Ron McClain's team-leading 86 yards as a tailback behind the 260-pound Neal to see how his addition helps the offense.

"The biggest thing to me is that he expands the roles of those other running backs, and even the tight ends, which makes him more valuable than just filling one spot would make him," Harbaugh explained.


The Ravens released wideout Matt Willis from the practice squad, signing defensive tackle J'Vonne Parker to replace him…Harbaugh would not reveal how much new right tackle Willie Anderson would play this Sunday against the Browns, but did say that Anderson is "in the mix." Adam Terry started the Ravens' opener.

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