Michael Huff

Michael Huff (29) and cornerback Lardarius Webb make their case to the officials after a called penalty in the fourth quarter of the Ravens' 14-6 win over Cleveland in September. (Christopher T. Assaf / Baltimore Sun / September 15, 2013)

For veteran Ravens free safety Michael Huff, it's been a mighty fall.

Signed to a three-year, $6 million contract in March that included a $1.5 million signing bonus, Huff was supposed to be a replacement for former NFL Defensive Player of the Year Ed Reed. But he was benched after a disastrous season opener against the Denver Broncos, in which his pass coverage and tackling were exposed.

Now Huff backs up rookie free safety Matt Elam and primarily plays on special teams. On defense, he has four tackles and no passes defended. On special teams, he has two tackles, but also had a notable lapse during a key kickoff return in the final minutes of a 19-16 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

It's the first time in his NFL career that the 2006 first-round draft pick and former Oakland Raider hasn't been a starter. Despite his reduced role, Huff has handled the adjustment well and hasn't complained.

"Obviously, the competitor in you wants to play," Huff said. "For me, the day I signed, it's been team first. It's all about the team. It's never been about me.

"I got to run down on punts, run down on kickoffs. That's what I'll do. Whatever it takes for us to win, get to the playoffs, defend the Super Bowl, that's what I'll do. You're a competitor. You want to be out there with your brothers playing. At the end of the day, we just want to win."

Huff is confident that the Ravens will improve after getting off to a 3-4 start.

"I see leadership in the locker room and from the top down," Huff said. "[Ravens coach John Harbaugh and general manager Ozzie Newsome] "built this team for a reason. We'll get this thing turned around. There's a lot of football left, especially in the division. It's going to come down to the last few weeks of the season. We'll be fine."

awilson@baltsun.com

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