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The Baltimore Sun

The Ravens are set to start interviewing head coaching candidates as soon as today, but they can already cross one name off their list.

New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said yesterday he is not interested in pursuing head coaching jobs this year. The Ravens had requested permission Wednesday to speak to McDaniels, 31, who directed the Patriots' record-breaking offense this season.

McDaniels, though, wasn't believed to be at the top of the Ravens' list to replace Brian Billick.

The first candidates expected to be interviewed by the Ravens will be two Dallas Cowboys assistants - offensive coordinator Jason Garrett and assistant head coach Tony Sparano - and Indianapolis Colts assistant head coach Jim Caldwell.

Garrett and Caldwell should receive most of the Ravens' attention because Sparano reportedly is the front-runner for the Miami Dolphins' coaching job. The Ravens have until Sunday at 6 p.m. to meet with assistants on playoff teams.

After the first phase, the Ravens will meet with Rex Ryan on Sunday. He has drawn increased interest after three seasons as the Ravens' defensive coordinator.

Ryan is scheduled to meet with the Atlanta Falcons on Monday and has been contacted by the Dolphins about their vacancy. The Dolphins have not set up an interview with Ryan.

It's still uncertain whether Bill Cowher will surface in the Ravens' coaching search.

Cowher declined to interview for the Falcons job, saying he wanted to stay retired for another season. A spokesman for Octagon sports and entertainment agency, which represents Cowher, said he thinks the former Pittsburgh Steelers coach hasn't changed his stance about coaching in 2008.

It is unknown whether the Ravens have contacted Cowher about their opening, but it's believed that he is being considered by the team.

Also last night, Cleveland Browns general manager Phil Savage told the Associated Press that the club has granted the Ravens' request to interview offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski.

Chudzinski, 39, was the San Diego Chargers' tight ends coach in 2005 and 2006 before joining the Browns last January.

The Ravens have held three extensive meetings in their coaching search and began with a list of 30 candidates.

The meetings were attended by owner Steve Bisciotti, team president Dick Cass, general manager Ozzie Newsome, vice president of football administration Pat Moriarty, director of college scouting Eric DeCosta, director of pro personnel George Kokinis, assistant director of pro personnel Vince Newsome and senior vice president of public relations Kevin Byrne.

Notes -- Billick packed up some of his belongings from his office at the Ravens' headquarters yesterday but declined to talk to reporters. "It's just not a smart thing to do right now," he said. ... A club official confirmed that the Ravens will pay Billick for the final three years of his contract, which will total $15 million. Sports Illustrated's Web site had reported that the Ravens had to pay Billick for only one more season because the final two years were a club option.

jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

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