PLEASE NOTE: The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed on BaltimoreRavens.com represent those of individual authors, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions or policies of the Baltimore Ravens' organization, front office staff, coaches and executives. Authors' views are formulated independently from any inside knowledge and/or conversations with Ravens officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.
Have you noticed how much playing time special teams ace Brendon Ayanbadejo is getting on the defensive side of the ball?
Ayanbadejo was all over the field last week against the Cleveland Browns, filling the stat sheet with six tackles (according to coaches film), one tackle for a loss, one sack and one interception.
It’s getting to the point where Ayanbadejo is contributing to the defense more than the role for which he was brought to Baltimore.
Defensively, the Ravens are utilizing Ayanbadejo’s speed and agility by subbing him in for LB Tavares Gooden in their nickel and dime packages. As a 6-foot-1, 225-pounder, Ayanbadejo is built more like a safety and has solid cover skills.
That was clear when he blanketed Browns receiver Mike Furrey across the middle to pick off quarterback Derek Anderson.
“He’s basically on the field for all of our sub-package,” head coach John Harbaugh noted. “Our passing situations, when people put three wide receivers on the field, he’s out there. He matches up because of his speed.”
The fact that Ayanbadejo likes his linebacker duties so much is a little unsettling for Harbaugh.
“He told me something last week that kind of bothered me,” Harbaugh said with a smile. “He told me that playing special teams is really great, but playing defense is better. I didn’t appreciate that too much.”
It was clear that Harbaugh was just kidding, but still, Ayanbadejo is making it difficult to keep him off the field on defense.
I saw Ayanbadejo at the Ravens’ training facility on Tuesday – the players’ only free day of the week – and he told me he did multiple interviews with local radio stations in the morning before heading to Owings Mills to do a live interview on ESPN.
It seems others are noticing his production.
And during one of the interviews, Ayanbadejo playfully responded to Harbaugh.
“I’m pretty sure that he likes being a head coach more than a position coach, so we’re in the same boat,” he joked.
Considering this weekend’s opponent is the New England Patriots, I told “B.A.” that he would be especially valuable because the Pats have slot-man extraordinaire Wes Welker and emerging speedster Julian Edelman.