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James Ihedigbo quietly makes a difference for Ravens

There will be a lot of talk about safeties this week with Ed Reed returning to Baltimore as a member of the Houston Texans, Matt Elam earning a starting spot for the Ravens and Michael Huff trying to contribute off the bench.

One player who probably won’t be mentioned much is strong safety James Ihedigbo. But through two games, Ihedigbo has been a steady presence for a Ravens secondary that still has issues to address in pass coverage.

Ihedigbo is one of two Ravens players -- middle linebacker Daryl Smith is the other -- to play every defensive snap in the first two games of the season. He has made seven tackles and knocked down one pass. He has been a sure tackler and sound in coverage, ensuring that he didn’t show up on another player’s highlight reel.

According to Pro Football Focus, Ihedigbo has missed only one tackle and he has allowed just three catches for 17 yards in coverage. PFF has given him the highest grade among all the Ravens defensive backs in pass coverage through two games.

Ihedigbo is much quieter off the field than his predecessor, Bernard Pollard, and his hits might not make as much noise on the field. But he is a smart player who has played significant snaps for three NFL teams, including the New England Patriots and New York Jets. That experience and his understanding of Dean Pees' defense have been beneficial.

Back in training camp, the talk was if Ihedigbo could hold off Elam, the team’s first-round draft pick, to start at strong safety. But it was Huff who lost his job to Elam, and that appears to have as much to do with the plays that Ihedigbo has made as it did with the ones that Huff did not make.

Ihedigbo will fly under the radar again this week, his name probably only showing up in print after he gets asked about Reed and Elam and Huff. But his play deserves a little ink, too.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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