Ryan links old and new for smooth transition

The Baltimore Sun

Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan said there has been a smooth transition with the new defensive coaching staff.

Ryan has had one of the league's top defenses since he became the Ravens' coordinator in 2005, including a No. 1 ranking in 2006.

Ryan doesn't expect wholesale changes.

"Obviously, if we can stay healthy, we're pretty good," Ryan said, alluding to last season when the Ravens had a rash of injuries. "We think our scheme is shaped to our personnel, so there is no reason for dramatic changes. Right now, we're just getting everyone caught up to speed."

Ryan said he will listen to some of the new assistants like linebackers coach Greg Mattison, who brings 37 years of college coaching experience with him. Or Chuck Pagano, the new secondary coach, who was with the Miami Hurricanes in the 1990s and has coached with the Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders.

"I'm not above asking Greg or Chuck, 'Here is how we play this coverage, but how did you guys do it in Oakland?' " Ryan said. "Maybe there is a blitz that they ran in Philly, and [head coach] John Harbaugh thinks it might work here. We have to take a look at everything."

Ryan said with the new assistants, it's just a matter of getting them acquainted with the Ravens' system.

"These are all smart people," Ryan said. "We can break out the film from last year, and the defensive coaches can see our people in our scheme. It's different and probably harder on the offense."

Goodbye, Stills?

When the Ravens signed Brendon Ayanbadejo to a four-year, $4.9 million contract, it might have meant the end of Gary Stills' career in Baltimore.

Both players are special teams aces, and most teams don't keep two around because they can't afford them.

Stills, a linebacker like Ayanbadejo, led the Ravens in special teams tackles last season with 26. He was a favorite of former special teams coach Frank Gansz Jr.

McAlister looking good

Ravens cornerback Chris McAlister looks in good shape after having knee surgery during the offseason.

McAlister started eight games last season, missing five of the final six because of a knee injury. He gained weight during the weeks of inactivity but appears fit and trim.

"I think he weighs about 212 pounds," Ryan said. "He looks good. I mean, really good."

No contract changes

Because the Ravens have little room under the salary cap, there was speculation that general manager Ozzie Newsome had asked several veterans, including quarterback Steve McNair and defensive end Trevor Pryce, to restructure their contracts or take pay cuts.

McNair is expected to make $4 million this season and $6 million each of the next two seasons. Pryce is expected to make $3 million this season, $4 million in 2009 and $4.5 million in 2010.

Both were injured last season and missed extensive time.

Newsome, though, said there have been no negotiations with Pryce or McNair.

"I have not touched their contracts. Nothing," Newsome said.

mike.preston@baltsun.com

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