"We're pleased that we could be that conduit for him from his playing days to becoming a full-time coach. "He has done a great job assisting Matt Simon. Earnest understands the commitment and hours. "He goes into this with his eyes wide open and no delusions. He's going to be a great coach."
A charter member of the Ravens' Ring of Honor who was a standout running back for Art Modell's Cleveland Browns, Byner won Super Bowls in Washington and Baltimore. In an e-mail to the Carrol County Times, Byner wrote that he hadn't signed a contract yet to join Joe Gibbs' coaching staff. "I've been in to see Coach Gibbs and met the staff," Byner wrote. "A decision should come soon."
Meanwhile, Billick said the team has hired former Arizona Cardinals assistant Jeff FitzGerald as a linebackers coach. FitzGerald once worked for the Redskins with Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. He also has stints with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the University of Alabama, where he was an assistant along with Ravens director of player personnel Phil Savage. "Jeff will be a great addition to the staff," said Billick, who didn't elaborate on how he'll realign his defensive staff as he already has two linebacker coaches in Mike Singletary and Phil Zacharias. "I'm going to possibly make another addition to the staff, but it's a fluid process." That would likely be a receivers coach.
Billick said he expects the rest of his staff to remain intact despite interest from other teams in offensive line coach Jim Colletto, special teams coach Gary Zauner and secondary coach Donnie Henderson. Henderson is a finalist for the New York Jets' defensive coordinator job. "Donnie is a very viable candidate," Billick said. "At some point, we have to move on because we can't be held victim by someone else's time frame. We have options if he gets that job."
NOTES: Ravens trainer Bill Tessendorf said outside linebacker Peter Boulware underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee last Friday in Vail, Colo. Boulware will miss the Pro Bowl because of an injury that forced him out of the Ravens' regular-season finale and playoff game. Cornerback Gary Baxter won't address an aggravated abdominal hernia until after attending the Pro Bowl in Honolulu. Tessendorf said outside linebacker Adalius Thomas will learn Monday whether he can participate in the Pro Bowl after undergoing elbow surgery last month.
Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.