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Ravens' New-Guy Veterans Are Adjusting


Can the old dogs learn new tricks?

Outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil, safety Michael Huff, and defensive tackle Marcus Spears are all on a team other than the one that drafted them for the first time in their NFL careers. Chris Canty is joining just his third squad.

And they're all doing it as some of the oldest players on the Ravens.

As Organized Team Activities (OTAs) head into summer and the defense looks to gel, a large component is the new free agent additions simply adjusting to new routines, teammates, schemes and workouts.

"It's kind of like you're a rookie all over again getting drafted to a new team," Huff said. "You really have no idea what to expect going into it. It's definitely, definitely different."

Huff, Canty and Spears are three of just eight Ravens players who are 30 years or older. Dumervil is 29.

All eight of Spears' seasons have been with the Cowboys, all seven of Huff's with the Raiders, and all six of Dumervil's with the Broncos. Canty spent his first four seasons with the Cowboys, then the past four with the Giants.

"We're creatures of habit," Canty said. "Getting used to a new environment, a new schedule  – all those things – it takes you out of your day-to-day routine. It's pretty weird."

The first step has been getting to know the new teammates and coaches, which Huff said is the most challenging part for him. He wants to know his teammates on and off the field, and that simply takes a lot of quality time.

Walking into a new locker room can feel like being a new kid at school strolling into the cafeteria.

"It's different, man," Spears said. "Being in Dallas for eight years, it was real familiar to me and I have real good friends on that team. Walking in somewhere else, you just don't know how it's going to be."

Spears said in Dallas players mostly just hung out with their position group. In Baltimore, everybody mingles with everybody, which he likes better.

At least Spears and Canty have had each other to lean on. They came into the league together in Dallas in 2005. Canty jetted to the Giants four years later, but when they had a chance to reunite, Canty helped convince Spears to sign with the Ravens.

"We're pretty much like family," Spears said. "When he left for New York, nothing changed. We still communicated and talked to each other. He called me and was like, 'C'mon man, sign the papers and let's roll.'"

Dumervil, who hails from Miami, said the abundance of native Floridians on the Ravens roster has helped him blend in.

"The guys in the locker room have been as advertised when I was making the decision to get here," Dumervil said. "Guys welcomed me in, and it's just been amazing. I feel comfortable."

Another part of the transition is learning a new defense. But all four players said that hasn't been much of an issue. For veterans, they have played in multiple systems before, and the Ravens are mindful of finding players who fit well into their scheme.

Dumervil had seven different defensive coordinators in seven years in Denver, so he's accustomed to adjusting. Huff said it's the same defense as in Oakland with different words.

"Football is football," Huff said. "The scheme part, we can pick that up pretty quickly."

One of the most challenging parts, the players said, is getting used to the Ravens' way of practicing and working out. Each team does it differently, and under workman-like Head Coach John Harbaugh, it's no walk in the park.

Huff called Harbaugh's OTA practices "full throttle, high intensity." Spears said he's been "impressed" with their fast pace. Canty, who played under demanding Giants Head Coach Tom Coughlin, said the workouts have been even tougher in Baltimore.

"The main thing about here, these guys are going to be in tremendous shape and we are going to be very, very strong," Canty said with a laugh. "It really took me a couple weeks to actually finish the workout and feel good about it – to get through all my reps and sets."

Overall, the four new faces said the transition has gone well. And it will continue as the Ravens wrap up OTAs and head into minicamp and training camp. For a new-look Baltimore defense, it will be an essential piece of the puzzle.

"Anytime you talk about transitioning to a new team, it's obviously going to be a tough adjustment," Canty said. "I don't think it's one of the easiest things about our profession. But with the people in this building and the people in this locker room, it's definitely been a good transition."

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