Ryan's defense inspired by his father

WESTMINSTER -- The words Buddy Ryan imparted to his son have had a lasting impact on the Baltimore Ravens' top-ranked defense. Growing up as the son of the legendary former Chicago Bears defensive coordinator and head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals, Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan learned from the architect of the blitz-happy 46 defense.

One page of the Buddy Ryan playbook that Ryan has definitely adopted in Baltimore is utilizing the versatility of his players. Especially how the team shifted former All-Pro linebacker Adalius Thomas all over the field for the past few years. "My dad always taught us to not let the only limitations your players have is you," Ryan said. "If you can do multiple things with them, don't limit them. Of course, you have to have the athletes.

"If you look at your players' strengths and weaknesses, don't harp on their weaknesses because you really can become creative if you play to their strengths. You're always trying to do things to help the player."

A year ago, the Ravens allowed the fewest yards per contest (264.1) and points allowed (201) while finishing first in interceptions (28) and second in sacks (60) with one less than the San Diego Chargers.

Since NFL tends to be a copy-cat league, some of the ways the methods Ryan utilized with Thomas are being duplicated this year by Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau with athletic defensive end Brett Keisel.

"Dick LeBeau is an outstanding coach," Ryan said. "I'm a student of the game and, trust me, I've stolen from him many times. We're very similar type of teams, very passionate and aggressive, smash you on defense.

"That's no surprise that coach LeBeau would look at some of the things we do. Trust me, we steal from him, too."

INJURY UPDATE: Rookie offensive tackle Jared Gaither didn't practice Friday afternoon after taking an elbow from a teammate. Afterward, he indicated that it wasn't serious.

Cornerback Samari Rolle has regained his faculties since being bulldozed at the goal line a few days ago by running back Mike Anderson, returning to practice. The hit left Rolle woozy and he was granted a day off.

Safety Ed Reed, who tweaked his ankle, returned to practice as did linebacker Jamar Enzor. Nose guard Kelly Gregg (right thigh bruise, knee) didn't practice, but performed a few individual drills. He still appears unlikely to play during Monday night's preseason opener against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Tight end Daniel Wilcox is almost definitely going to be out. Wilcox's ankle is in a splint and he could be sidelined at least until next week.

"Ankles are always a concern," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "Dan's pretty tough, knows how to take care of himself, but ankles always concern me."

Offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden (turf toe) and linebackers Dan Cody (knee surgery) and Mike Smith (shoulder surgery) remain on the physically unable to perform list.

Cody is off crutches and is limping around camp with his knee wrapped up.

When Cody was asked "how did it go," he replied, "as well as it could go," raising the question of whether he may have undergone another surgery.

Cody underwent arthroscopic knee surgery two weeks prior to camp.

QUICK HITS: Devard Darling streaked past Evan Oglesby and Leo Bookman dusted Jamaine Winborne for touchdowns, following Yamon Figurs' touchdown catch behind Willie Gaston. ... Damien Linson had a great bobbling catch in traffic, outleaping Rolle. ... When players dropped the ball, including running back Willis McGahee, a young fan screamed in a squeaky voice, "C'mon! Catch the ball!" ... Later on in practice, the secondary began to assert itself with Winborne, Bobby Blackshire, Terrell Maze and Derrick Martin shadowing receivers and knocking down passes. ... Second-year punter Sam Koch boomed the football, knocking a few 50-yarders into the sky. ... Quarterback Steve McNair fumbled a snap. ... The starters will only likely play one series Monday, so don't blink or you will miss McGahee's debut. ... Running back Musa Smith, who hasn't had a strong camp thus far, was stripped of the football by free agent linebacker Ryan Riddle. Billick yelled: "That can't happen!" ... The continued absence of NFL Europe kicker Rhys Lloyd due to visa issues doesn't seem to be concerning Billick. "Who?" Billick said when asked about Lloyd's status. ... Billick seemed pleased with the Ravens' work habits after a day off. "They watched games last night, so it feels like it's time to go," he said. "Their focus is appropriate because they know it's our turn Monday night." ... Third-year defensive tackle Anthony Bryant (6-foot-3, 337 pounds) has been dubbed "Calves" because of the gigantic size of his lower body. "It looks like he's Iowa corn-fed and bred," Billick said of the former Alabama standout. "It's amazing the names these guys have for one another."

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

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