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New Ravens DC Zach Orr confident as first-time play-caller

New Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Zach Orr might be a first-time play caller and the league's second-youngest coordinator, but he's been thinking about being in this position for many years now.

The 31-year old Orr has spent most of his NFL career in the Ravens' organization, first as a player and later as a coach, so he's well-steeped in the concept of what it takes, as head coach John Harbaugh often says, to "play like a Raven." But interestingly, Orr said this week it was in his one season outside the organization -- on Urban Meyer's staff, during his brief Jaguars tenure -- when a fellow assistant gave him some valuable career advice.

"About three years ago people were telling me if you have aspirations of being a coordinator, when you're watching the film on your own you need to start seeing how you would call the game, who you would stop certain game plans and schemes, and how you attack certain schemes," Orr said, via the team's official website. "I always did that."

Orr is replacing the highly successful Mike Macdonald, who ran the Ravens' defense successfully enough to earn himself a head-coaching opportunity with the Seahawks. The Arizona Cardinals' Nick Rallis, 30, will be the only coordinator younger than Orr in the NFL next season.

On the one hand, Orr should be in good shape, with a veteran staff behind him, coaching a unit that became the first defense in NFL history to finish No. 1 in the league in points per game allowed, sacks and takeaways.

But on the other hand, Orr is in the captain's chair for the first time, and with that comes great expectations. He said he won't let his age or inexperience calling plays or his predecessor's success affect his performance. And that starts with hard work.

"I've seen it done, I've been a part of it, and what makes me confident is my preparation I'm going to put in," Orr said. "I'm going to prepare my butt off. That's where confidence comes in.

"Anything you do, if you're not confident you can do the job, it means you haven't prepared. If you prepare the right way, how you're supposed to prepare, you're going to be confident. I plan on preparing the right way."

Orr, who has been the Ravens' inside linebacker coach the past two seasons, will receive the requisite support he needs from the rest of the staff, according to Harbaugh.

"I think he's been studying that and how to do that all the way through," Harbaugh said. "In talking to him, I have a comfort level that he'll be good at it, but he has to go do it. There's no doubt about it.

"Again, he's going to get support not just from the veteran coaches but also the young coaches that are going to help set up those game plans and make sure that all the bases are covered that way."

Orr said he plans to keep the Ravens' scheme the same, as a continuation of what Macdonald helped build, but it will also include Orr's own personal touch.

"We definitely want to build on that," Orr said. "That's a scheme that we helped build here for years. We're always looking to get better. I think that's why you've seen great defenses here in the past. That's what we've got to continue."

He's already figured out one part of how he'll handle his role. Orr said he plans to call plays from the field, not up in the press box. Being close to the action just fits him, as a former player.

"I've got to be on the field," Orr said. "I've got to look players in the eyes, see what's going on, get a feel for how guys are feeling. People have their different ways. I've got to be on the field."

If it means keeping the train rolling as they have for the better part of two decades since Harbaugh's arrival, the Ravens will do whatever it takes to support Orr in his new role.

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