Deja Vu For Baxter

<p>Gary Baxter experienced a welcome case of déjà vu. In a defensive configuration that resembled the look of last year's secondary, Baxter shifted from free safety back to his old cornerback spot Thursday morning in Westminster. The move was mostly by design to ensure that Baxter doesn't lose his familiarity with the nuances of bump-and-run coverage he gleaned as a starter last season.

In addition, veteran cornerback Corey Fuller has been experiencing mild pain in his foot although Ravens coach Brian Billick cautioned that Fuller's health wasn't the impetus behind the lineup shuffle. "The whole plan is to have me ready at any time in case anything happens," Baxter said. "They can always call my name and have me play corner. I just have to always be ready. I definitely love any chance I get to play corner. "It's all about flexibility." 

In Saturday night's preseason opener against the Buffalo Bills at M&T Bank Stadium, defensive coordinator Mike Nolan said Baxter will be back at free safety and Fuller will start at cornerback. Last season, Baxter started 14 games at cornerback and finished second on the team with 90 tackles and 20 pass deflections along with one interception. When Fuller signed as a free agent after the Cleveland Browns released him a cost-cutting maneuver last winter, he became an instant starter at cornerback opposite franchise player Chris McAlister

With Fuller mostly resting his legs Thursday, Will Demps was elevated to Baxter's safety position next to strong safety Ed Reed. "At some point, we have got to give Gary some reps at that," Billick said. "You may see a little of that in the game as well. The great thing is that Gary has that flexibility and we have got to try to keep him current if we can." 

Baxter had spent the entire training camp at safety and the majority of the final couple of minicamps at that spot as well. Because Baxter's size and athleticism is well-suited to either position at 6-foot-2 and 204 pounds, the Ravens' second-round pick from two years ago grants the team uncommon flexibility in the defensive backfield. Baxter held towering Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Plaxico Burress to three receptions for 52 yards in the season finale. "Gary is one of our best corners," Nolan said. "He's our next best guy and he could be one of the best two corners we have. To get the best four on the field, we have him at safety and he's doing a fine job. "We just want to keep things fresh in his mind and fine-tuned. This is the time of year to do that."

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