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Welcome to Baltimore, Fabian


When Fabian Washington arrived at Ravens headquarters early Monday morning, it didn't take long for his spirits to lift.

A palatial training facility in Owings Mills, Md. was one definite perk, but the chance to compete for a starting spot on one of the NFL's most dominant defenses took the cake.

"I'm so happy to be here," he said. "The whole day I've been walking around with a smile on my face. I'm amped up and ready to go."

When they shipped a fourth-round draft pick to the Oakland Raiders Sunday, the Ravens were looking to add depth at cornerback. When the prospects they targeted were taken by the second round, general manager Ozzie Newsome picked up the phone to acquire Washington, who is still under contract for two years.

"We didn't feel like there was any other player that was comparable to Fabian," Newsome said.

Considering that Washington was Oakland's first-round (23rd overall) draft pick in 2005 and has two years of starting experience under his belt, the 125th-overall pick this year seemed dispensable.

Washington, 24, joined the Raiders' first string as a rookie, but was demoted after two games last season in favor of fellow 2005 draftee Stanford Routt.

The Ravens will give him every opportunity to challenge Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle, and at least serve as a solid nickel back.

"I think that's what makes our team as good as it is, that guys can be very competitive," Newsome said. "In our division, they throw three receivers out there on the field in a hurry."

The 5-foot-11, 186-pounder is happy to have some familiar faces on the team. Assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Rex Ryan's twin brother is Raiders defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, and Ravens secondary coach Chuck Pagano used to coach Washington in Oakland.

Pagano and Washington ate lunch together Monday and spent time chatting in the coach's office.

"It's great," Washington said, noting the energy of a new coaching staff under head coach John Harbaugh. "I was up in [Pagano's] office watching film for a few hours, and he was explaining the culture around here. I'm loving it."

After three years in the league, Washington has 112 tackles and five interceptions. He hopes to improve on that as a Raven.

"Guys know about our defense and their play is elevated when they come to Baltimore," Newsome said. "They realize they have to take their play to another level, and that's the way Fabian thought."

Washington also learned last week that he will not be prosecuted for a domestic battery charge in a February incident with his girlfriend in his East Manatee County, Fla. home. Washington must complete a first-offender program.

"As far as the domestic charge, I spoke with [Fabian] yesterday about that, and based on the information that we have at this point and what he's undergoing, I don't think at this point, I don't think there can be any league discipline," Newsome said. "But, that's not for me to say. That's for the league to make that determination." Notable

The Ravens signed safety Jim Leonhard, who spent the past three years with the Buffalo Bills. At 5-foot-8, 190 pounds, Leonhard may be slightly undersized, but he knows how to make plays. He has 72 career tackles and two interceptions and was a solid special teams contributor.

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