Ravens hire receivers coach Mike Johnson

OWINGS MILLS -- Former Atlanta Falcons quarterbacks coach Mike Johnson was hired Wednesday as the Baltimore Ravens' new wide receivers coach. Johnson, who was fired earlier this month after three seasons as Michael Vick's coach, coached the Falcons' wideouts in 2002.

Johnson, 38, replaces David Shaw, who was fired two days after the season ended.

"Michael is truly one of the bright young coaches in this league," Ravens coach Brian Billick said in a statement. "He brings a wealth of knowledge to the position and has been schooled by some of the best coaches in the game, including Dan Reeves, Mike Riley and Norv Turner. He will be a great addition to this staff."

Under Johnson, Vick was a Pro Bowl selection in 2004 and 2005 and passed for 5,310 yards, 33 touchdowns and 28 interceptions over the past three seasons.

However, this season Vick threw a career-high 13 interceptions and ranked 25th with a 73.1 passer rating. Only three quarterbacks tossed more fourth-quarter interceptions than Vick, who threw five.

Johnson's role was reduced in 2004 because offensive coordinator Greg Knapp worked closely with the quarterbacks. When Johnson coached the Falcons' receivers, Brian Finneran caught a career-high 56 passes for 838 yards and six touchdowns.

Prior to a stint as the San Diego Chargers' quarterbacks coach, Johnson coached receivers and quarterbacks at Oregon State.

"I am looking forward to the opportunity to help continue the development of some of the bright young Ravens plus Derrick Mason, who has done great things wherever he has been, and a rising star like Mark Clayton," Johnson said in a statement.

Johnson's hiring leaves at least two more positions to fill, including special teams and running backs. Assistant secondary coach Dennis Thurman is expected to be promoted to head secondary coach to replace Johnnie Lynn, who was fired.

Meanwhile, former Ravens majority owner Art Modell wasn't selected to a group of 15 finalists for the Hall of Fame. Modell has been a finalist in the past, but has been haunted by moving the Cleveland Browns to Maryland a decade ago.

The only elected president in league history, Modell won a Super Bowl in 2001, an NFL championship in 1964 and is credited for his negotiating role in the first collective bargaining agreement, the NFL-AFL merger, establishing NFL Films and launching Monday Night Football.

Modell, 80, has a history of health problems, including a stroke and heart trouble, and friends, family and colleagues fear that he may only be inducted after he passes away.

"I believe Art belongs in the Hall of Fame," the late New York Giants owner Wellington Mara said in 2002. "I don't know a person who has done more for the league than Modell, especially through television."


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