Ravens aide Shafer retires


The Ravens' turnover will not be limited to the locker room.

Before a salary cap crunch forces a major roster overhaul, the team lost its second coach this off-season when secondary coach Steve Shafer announced his retirement. Defensive backs coach Donnie Henderson will assume the duties of Shafer, 61, the senior member of the Ravens' staff.

That means there could be four changes in a span of two weeks to a staff that has had to replace only one coach in Brian Billick's first three seasons. In addition to Shafer, the Ravens have replaced linebackers coach Jack Del Rio (who left to become the Carolina Panthers' defensive coordinator), are prepared for the possible departure of defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis to become the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' head coach, and are expected to name Gary Zauner as their new special teams coach by the end of the week.

"Continuity is always good," Billick said. "But new blood can be a good thing, too."

Lewis remained in a holding pattern yesterday over the Buccaneers' job, saying that he has not heard anything new from Tampa Bay. It's been reported that Buccaneers general manager Rich McKay would like to hire Lewis, but the sons of owner Malcolm Glazer first want to pursue Oakland Raiders coach Jon Gruden.

A decision could be announced anywhere from the next few days to next week.

When Lewis was interviewed for the openings with the Panthers and Buccaneers, there was speculation that he would bring Bill Musgrave with him as offensive coordinator. Musgrave is a former Panthers offensive coordinator who served in the same capacity this past season at the University of Virginia.

Although Lewis declined to name any candidates for his potential staff, he said it would be assembled quickly.

"It would be a matter of making eight to 10 phone calls," Lewis said.

It had been rumored that Lewis would be taking Henderson as part of that new staff. But it now appears Henderson will remain with the Ravens by assuming Shafer's role.

"I talked with him and he told me that he wants to stay here," Billick said. "But that can always change."

The first change to the Ravens' staff this off-season was replacing Del Rio with defensive assistant Mike Smith on Jan. 25. The Ravens are expected to fire special teams coach Russ Purnell soon if he doesn't land with another team and hire Zauner, the former Minnesota Vikings special teams coordinator, in a move seen by the team as an upgrade.

If Lewis is selected by the Buccaneers, it is believed that the Ravens would promote receivers coach Mike Nolan to defensive coordinator. Nolan has been a defensive coordinator for the New York Giants, Washington Redskins and New York Jets.

While these staff changes have added another challenge for the Ravens, Billick isn't surprised by the turnover.

"I'm biased because I think I have the best staff in the league," Billick said. "They are very deserving to move up. In doing so, it shows that we have a structure in place that draws good people."

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