OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — Michael Huff doesn’t expect to fill Ed Reed’s shoes as the last line of the Baltimore Ravens defense.
He’s just honored to follow in Reed’s footsteps.
After being released by the Oakland Raiders last week as part of a salary-cap purge, Huff signed a three-year contract with the Ravens on Thursday. He’s the fourth defensive player signed by the Super Bowl champions this offseason, following Elvis Dumervil, Chris Canty and Marcus Spears.
“He’s going to enable us to keep doing the things that we’ve been doing on defense and even build on those things,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said of Huff. “He’s just a tremendous player, a tremendous guy.”
Huff is expected to replace Reed, who signed as a free agent with Houston last week after an 11-year run with Baltimore.
“Ed is one of the greatest free safeties to ever play this game, a first-ballot Hall of Famer,” Huff said. “For me to come in here, it’s almost like I’m following in his footsteps.”
Huff said he and Reed exchanged text messages on Wednesday night.
“I just told him that I’ll carry on his legacy, carry on the tradition of great safeties in Baltimore,” Huff said. “I’m definitely going to go out there and hold up my end.”
Huff, 30, played seven years for the Raiders, and in six of those seasons he played in all 16 games. Although he has also been used as a cornerback and free safety, Huff will almost certainly begin his career with the Super Bowl champions at free safety.
“The thing that stands out is that you’re looking at a guy on the back end who has a lot of range, a good tackler coming out of the back end and he’s durable,” Ravens secondary coach Teryl Austin said. “I think in his seven years, he’s missed maybe four games. That’s a testament to the way he is as a professional.”
Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome considered taking Huff in the first round of the 2006 NFL draft, but he never got the chance because the Raiders snagged the former University of Texas star with the seventh overall pick.
“Things didn’t work out then, but seven years later I’m a Raven,” Huff said. “So everything happens for a reason.”
After the Ravens lost Reed and cornerback Cary Williams to free agency and released strong safety Bernard Pollard, Huff thought he had a good chance of extending his career in Baltimore.
“Anytime you see a great organization like this and see a guy leave in your spot, (you think) `I can play that spot. I can come here and fill that role and hopefully not leave any drop off,”‘ Huff said.
He visited the Dallas Cowboys before signing on with the Ravens. Why Baltimore?
“Defense and just winning,” Huff said. “At this point in my career, it’s not chasing money. It’s not chasing things like that. It’s chasing that Super Bowl ring.”
Huff had two interceptions last season, one of which came against Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco.
“As soon as I see him, I’ll have to give him a hard time,” Huff said. “I’ll always replay that.”
He probably won’t want to watch the whole game, because Baltimore set a franchise record for points in a 55-20 rout.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)