Landry asserting his presence

OWINGS MILLS -- Barking out defensive signals and breaking crisply on the football, strong safety Dawan Landry was in the thick of the action at the Baltimore Ravens' passing camp. With Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed and cornerbacks Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle absent, Landry assumed a leadership role in the secondary as the lone starting defensive back to attend the voluntary workouts this week.

For Landry, it was yet another step forward in his emergence as a reliable starting presence.

And it wasn't unusual for Landry to be so active on the practice field. He has recorded perfect attendance for the entire offseason program, including weightlifting, meetings and practices.

"He has been tremendous this spring," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "He's made every single workout, hasn't missed a lift, hasn't missed a run and when you watch him play out here, you see that he's game.

"He's playing fast. He's all over the field. He's taking charge of the secondary back there, and he deserves special mention. He's just had a tremendous offseason."

As Landry enters his third NFL season, the hard-hitting former fifth-round draft from Georgia Tech has taken his work ethic to a new level.

The 6-foot, 220-pounder has lost a few pounds to increase his mobility and appears faster than last year when he failed to record an interception after picking off five passes as an all-rookie selection the previous season.

"You always have something to prove," Landry said. "It's just going out there and showing you belong and being a part of this Ravens defense. I feel pretty good right now. I just want to get better each and every day."

In two seasons, Landry has registered 152 career tackles, four sacks and a dozen pass deflections.

His productivity hasn't mirrored his low profile. Especially compared to his younger brother, Washington Redskins safety LaRon Landry, the sixth overall pick of the draft last year.

"We kid him all the time," defensive coordinator Rex Ryan said. "We always claim we're going to trade him for LaRon Landry."

Naturally competitive with his sibling, Landry acknowledged that they joke around all the time about who would win in a one-on-one encounter on special teams when the Ravens play the Redskins at M&T Bank Stadium on Dec. 7.

The Landry brothers were raised in Ama, La., a town of 1,285 in St. Charles Parish on the west bank of the Mississippi river. They used to regularly don boxing gloves to settle arguments.

"We're always clowning around at home," Landry said. "We'll just have to wait and see who comes out on top this time."

Last year, injuries riddled the Ravens' secondary, particularly McAlister and Rolle. Opposing quarterbacks responded by targeting the replacement cornerbacks for several touchdown passes.

Although the Ravens finished sixth in total defense, they tied for 22nd in points allowed with the Houston Texans by surrendering 24 points per contest.

"That was a bad year for us," Landry said. "You can't make any excuses about injuries. We still have to play football.

"We gave up a lot of points, so that reflects on all of us. We were on the short end of the stick, but it's a new year and a new atmosphere now."

At the NFL owners' meetings this spring, Landry's work was rewarded through the NFL's performance-based pay system.

He received the third-highest salary supplement of $284,568, nearly matching his entire base salary of $360,000.

Ryan is a strong believer that Landry is worth every penny.

"I don't believe there's a harder worker than Dawan Landry," Ryan said. "Landry's been fantastic, and he's really elevated his game on the practice field as well. From a communication standpoint, that's always been something that he waits for Ed to communicate, but now he's able to do that.

"We actually used to force him with the second group to make those calls, so he would verbalize things to his guys and hand signal all that stuff. Now, he's like an old pro out there. I could see him playing 10, 12 years. He's one of those kind of guys."

NOTE: The agent for first-round draft quarterback Joe Flacco met with team officials Friday at the Ravens' training complex.

Continuing negotiations for Flacco's rookie contract, it marked the third meeting between Joe Linta and Ravens chief negotiator Pat Moriarty. Linta has described talks as productive so far.

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


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