When the Baltimore Ravens signed free safety Michael Huff to a three year, $6 million deal, the organization knew Huff had some huge shoes to to fill taking the position Ed Reed covered for 11 seasons. The addition of Huff is just one of the many moves the Ravens have made so far entering the 2013 season where the team is looking to be faster on defense than they were last year.
Huff is the expected starter for the Ravens this season at free safety, and his backups will most likely be Christian Thompson, who will be suspended in the first four regular season games this year for violating the NFL‘s substance abuse policy, and Asa Jackson, a second year player that was originally drafted by the Ravens to be a nickel corner but was used as a project at free safety later in the season.
Huff brings unique athletic abilities to the Ravens defense as he demonstrated the ability to play all five positions in the secondary (including nickel) in his days with the Oakland Raiders. His diverse play in the secondary is an asset that the Ravens have never really had on defense before which is saying something.
When you look at guys like Reed, Rod Woodson or former Pro Bowl corner Chris McAlister, they were good generally at one or two places in the secondary but never played all five on a Ravens defense.
Huff provides the ability to mix and match with rookie strong safety Matt Elam as both players on the back end have the range to stay on the field and confuse offenses. The Ravens will ask Huff to be a rover at free safety, and there will be many occasions where he will be single high.
Despite all of the responsibilities Huff has, don’t expect him to be a turnover machine in coverage. Since being drafted by the Raiders in 2006, Huff has 11 interceptions total along with four forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. Huff should hold his own in the secondary.
The roster on defense that ranked 17th overall and allowed 21.5 points per game in the 2012 season has been torn up for the long haul. It is a challenge but one the defending Super Bowl champions are looking forward to.