James Ihedigbo: A Suprising Leader for the Baltimore Ravens

By jeffreykryglik
Douglas Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into the season opening game opposite the Denver Broncos, the Baltimore Ravens have a surprising starter at the strong safety position in James Ihedigbo.

The seven-year veteran is finally getting his chance to be a full-time starter in the NFL and not just a fill-in player as he was with the New York Jets and New England Patriots.

The former Massachusetts University standout has largely contributed on special teams and as a run stopper in early downs throughout his career, but his efforts so far this preseason have shocked some people in just how versatile he is.

At 6’1”, 214 pounds, Ihedigbo has the standard size of an NFL safety, yet lacks the breakaway speed to catch up with receivers who escape his coverage. Despite his lack of athleticism, Ihedigbo is a guy who plays with a high motor and puts forth maximum effort with each repetition while he is on the field.

The 29-year-old brings more of a physical presence than a traditional safety in the NFL and plays better close to the line of scrimmage. He has contributed successful reps coming off the edge and pressuring the quarterback.

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh has echoed throughout the entire preseason that Ihedigbo has had one of the best training camp’s on his entire roster and it’s one of the reasons as to why he has supplanted 2013’s first-round selection Matt Elam as the starting strong safety.

James is well-respected in the locker room among all of the players and has become more of a vocal presence ever since he’s garnered more reps with first-team defense. I’m not saying he’s going to fill the voids of Ed Reed or Bernard Pollard, but Ihedigbo will give the Ravens a hard-hitting form tackler around the line of scrimmage and in the back end of the secondary.

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