Ravens hire Carrier as secondary coach

OWINGS MILLS -- Baltimore Ravens coach Brian Billick repeated his pattern of hiring an intimidating former NFL defender for his coaching staff, adding hard-hitting former Chicago Bears All-Pro safety Mark Carrier on Thursday as a secondary coach.

Carrier follows in the footsteps of former Bears teammate and Hall of Fame middle linebacker Mike Singletary and former All-Pro linebacker Jack Del Rio, two former Ravens assistants who got their start in the NFL coaching ranks under Billick.

Carrier, 37, who spent the past two seasons coaching the Arizona State defensive backs, will split duties with Dennis Thurman who was the assistant secondary coach under Johnnie Lynn who was fired.

"Dennis is my boss," Carrier said in a telephone interview from the Arizona State football office. "He?s my mentor, and we?ve known each other for a long time.

"I?ve known him since I was being recruited to go to USC. If you let him tell the story, he?s the reason I went to school there. This is a great opportunity."

Carrier played in the NFL for 11 seasons, was named to three Pro Bowls in Chicago and was the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1990 when he intercepted 10 passes after starring at USC and being drafted with the sixth overall pick of the first round.

Carrier retired in 2000 following stints with the Detroit Lions and Washington Redskins. He built a reputation as a brutal tackler who thrived on physical contact as well as the cerebral aspect of football.

Carrier was suspended for a helmet-to-helmet blow when he was with the Redskins, the final NFL team he played for.

"Mark brings the unique perspective to the position that only a former player can bring," Billick said in a statement. "In addition, he has made a commitment to the profession having coached at both the high school and collegiate level. Mark will bring the same toughness and tenacity to this staff that he brought to his teams during his 11-year career in the NFL."

Carrier was a Jim Thorpe Award winner at USC as the nation?s top defensive back, and he hopes to set an example for a secondary that includes standouts Ed Reed, Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle with his playing experience and coaching expertise.

"What I?ve learned because I played in this league is that being a former player is not enough," Carrier said. "You still have to earn that respect from the players and communicate with them. What I hope to bring is a mindset of confidence of how the game is supposed to be played, and, more important, teach.

"I learned at the midway point of my career how to open my mind and get a better understanding of the game. Football became simpler and I hope to bring that to the table, to make the game easier for the guys."

It didn?t go unnoticed by Carrier that Singletary went on to become the San Francisco 49ers? assistant head coach and has interviewed for the Detroit Lions? coaching vacancy, or how Del Rio, another USC product along with Thurman and Carrier, is now the Jacksonville Jaguars? head coach.

"They?re worked with Brian and gone on to better things in their coaching career, but that?s not what I?m looking at since I?m just getting started and have a lot to learn," Carrier said.

"There?s a pattern there, and you can give credit to those guys and Brian."

NOTE: The Ravens are expected to hire a special teams coordinator soon, and former Kansas City Chiefs special teams coach Frank Gansz Jr. is considered a prime candidate.

In addition to being a long time contributor to RavensInsider, Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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