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Kendrick Lewis is solid first addition for Ravens

Safety Kendrick Lewis is far from a household name. He also won't alleviate concerns about the gaping holes in the Baltimore Ravens' passing game.

But the Ravens' first free-agent addition was a solid and necessary move.

Lewis, 26, the Houston Texans' leading tackler who reached a three-year agreement with the Ravens on Saturday, is an average starter who will provide a modest upgrade at safety because of his experience and leadership.

What stands out the most about this addition is Lewis' knowledge of defenses. He was known to line up teammates last season with the Texans. This is extremely important for the Ravens after high draft picks Matt Elam and Terrence Brooks have struggled to find a comfort level at that position. Ravens coach John Harbaugh has made the point more than once that safety is one of the toughest positions to transition from college to the NFL.

The Ravens might say the other starting spot next to Will Hill will be an open competition, but the favorite has to be Lewis. After four unsuccessful seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs, he established himself in his one season in Houston. He was the 39th-rated safety last season by Pro Football Focus, which puts him in the middle of the league and six spots higher than Darian Stewart, the Ravens' starter last year.

Lewis also flashed playmaking ability last season, which is a big plus for a Ravens secondary that combined for six interceptions and three forced fumbles. He picked off two passes last season, including one he returned 27 yards for a touchdown against Andrew Luck and forced three fumbles.

The Ravens filled the other starting safety spot as best as they could given their limited salary-cap space. The team knew it couldn't rely on Elam, a first-round pick from 2013, to step up after he regressed last season. The other factor was Terrence Brooks, a third-round pick from last year, will miss at least the first six games of the regular season with a knee injury.

Safety had to be addressed in free agency because this is a bad draft for that position and too many young players (Tampa Bay's Mark Barron, New Orleans' Kenny Vaccaro and the New York Jets' Calvin Pryor) struggle.

That's why the Ravens had to find someone like Lewis in free agency. It's a good move as long as the expectations are tempered. He prides himself on being a smart and physical player. The biggest knock on Lewis is his pass coverage, but he was the 13th-best safety in run support, according to Pro Football Focus.

Some will be disappointed because the Ravens haven't signed a target for quarterback Joe Flacco in free agency. But the addition of Lewis makes the Ravens better.