Chris Carr was 15 minutes late yesterday to his first conference call with Baltimore reporters. But the free-agent cornerback- returner had good reason - he was still working out.
"I think I can make a big impact," said Carr, who signed a two-year, $5 million contract. "I just haven't gotten the opportunity that I wanted in my career."
In his first four NFL seasons, Carr has been primarily known as a return specialist. The Ravens will use him to boost their special teams, but they also envision him as the third cornerback behind starters Fabian Washington and Domonique Foxworth.
Carr, 25, whose signing came at the same time the Ravens released Samari Rolle, represents a shift at cornerback.
He would become the youngest Ravens nickel back in recent history. Since the 2000 season, it's a position at which the Ravens have used veterans Corey Ivy, Deion Sanders, Corey Fuller and James Trapp.
Carr likely will compete with Frank Walker, who is expected to remain the team's spot starter at cornerback.
"Chris is a versatile player who gives us quality depth in the secondary," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said in a statement. "He has coverage skills, and he is a sound tackler willing to come up and take on the backs and the linemen blocking for those guys."
After having a limited role on defense with the Oakland Raiders, Carr made significant strides at cornerback last season for the Tennessee Titans. He finished with career highs in tackles (31) and passes broken up (five).
The perception of Carr started to change in November, when he was forced into the starting lineup because he was the last healthy cornerback. After getting picked on early by the Jacksonville Jaguars, Carr broke up two passes and made an interception that set up Tennessee's final touchdown in a 24-14 win.
But Carr isn't expecting the Ravens to hand him the job.
"I'm the type of guy that I like earning stuff," Carr said. "I expect to be able to compete. If I'm the best guy for the job, then I want to be able to play."
This attitude comes from Carr entering the NFL as an undrafted free agent out of Boise State. He received a $5,000 signing bonus from the Raiders in 2005.
"It's always kept me hungry," he said. "I'm very thankful of the road that I took."
On the day the Ravens introduced Carr, they officially parted ways with Rolle. A four-year starter, Rolle requested this month to be released when the team signed Foxworth.
By cutting Rolle, the team freed up $4.1 million in salary-cap room.
"When we talk about the type of person we want as a Raven, we talk about a player like Samari," Newsome said. "He's smart, tough, works hard and made us a better team. When you talk about a player having courage, you point to Samari and what he has fought through the last few years. He's a special guy.
"There will be other teams who will make a run at him now, but we have not closed the door on bringing him back to the Ravens at some point."