- Associated Press - Saturday, September 10, 2016

BALTIMORE (AP) - Eight years and two jobs later, Rex Ryan still feels a tight connection with the Baltimore Ravens. It’s an unshakable rapport that goes both ways.

The season opener between the Ravens and Ryan’s Buffalo Bills on Sunday matches two AFC teams coming off a disappointing 2015 season. Beyond that, it’s about a beloved coach returning to a place where he built a defense that was among the meanest and finest in the NFL.

Along the way, Ryan received an education that provided him the tools to be a successful head coach.

“I learned a ton from there,” Ryan said. “It’s special. I have a lot of friends back there and still some players on that team that I really respect.”

Most notably, linebacker Terrell Suggs.

“He’s as good as it gets,” Ryan said. “Speed to power, he’s a nasty, mean dude.”

Suggs learned to play that way under Ryan, who coached the Ravens’ defense from 1999-2008.

“What he taught me personally is just how to play Ravens football,” Suggs said. “Some people will always be Ravens; Rex is one of them.”

Ryan left the Ravens to coach the New York Jets from 2009-2014 and is now in his second year with the Bills. His brother, Rob Ryan, is Buffalo’s new defensive coordinator, but the Ravens know Rex is calling the shots.

“He has some different blitzes, some that are executed various ways,” coach John Harbaugh said. “Some of it is Rex’s personality. He certainly is not afraid to call something up.”

The connection between the Ravens and Bills extends beyond Rex Ryan. Buffalo quarterback Tyrod Taylor spent four years in Baltimore as Joe Flacco’s backup, and former Ravens safety Ed Reed is a Bills assistant coach.

“It’s going to be kind of weird to see Superman in street clothes,” Suggs said of Reed. “I guess he’s Clark Kent now.”

Some things to know about the matchup between the Bills and Ravens:

LOOKING AHEAD: The Ravens stumbled to a 5-11 finish in 2015, their worst season in Harbaugh’s eight years as their coach.

Much of the problem stemmed from a rash of injuries, but most of the those players are back, including Flacco, Suggs, running back Justin Forsett and receiver Steve Smith.

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