By Matt Vensel
4:51 PM EST, January 12, 2012
Before Ravens defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano joined coach John Harbaugh’s staff as secondary coach in 2008, he spent one season as the defensive coordinator at the University of North Carolina. After that 2007 season with the Tar Heels, Pagano has memories of one redshirt freshman quarterback he helped break in by calling blitz after blitz during offseason workouts.
Four years later, on Sunday afternoon, Pagano could be bombarding T.J. Yates with blitzes again.
Yates, a fifth-round pick in the 2011 NFL draft, has helped steer the Houston Texans to the AFC divisional round. Even though his time with Yates was brief, Pagano isn’t surprised that the rookie has completed more than 60 percent of his passes while going 4-3 in seven NFL games.
“He was in a pro-style offense there, so he was trained to do what he’s doing now. It doesn’t surprise me that he’s having the success that he’s having,” Pagano said Thursday. “Again, he’s surrounded with a ton of talent. They can run the football, which takes a ton of pressure off him. He’s always got backs and tight ends to check it down [to]. He’s doing a really good job.”
Though Pagano was in charge of the defense and Yates was a young signal-caller trying to make his mark at the college level, Pagano said he had a lot of interaction with Yates, now 24.
“He was just a young guy in a new system making his way, and watching him from afar after leaving after a year and watching his maturation process and seeing how far he’s come, he’s done really good for himself,” Pagano said. “I’m proud of the kid.”
Will that knowledge of what Yates was like in college help Pagano game-plan for him Sunday?
“Maybe understanding his strengths and weaknesses maybe a little more, but what we see on tape is what we’re going to get,” Pagano said, suggesting it won’t make much of a difference.
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