Ivy, 32, is regarded as a physical special-teams contributor and reserve defensive back who previously played in Baltimore for three seasons.
He’s slated to play Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers, primarily on special teams.
“The thing about Corey is he’s going to have a very hefty workload,” Harbaugh said during his weekly WBAL radio program. “He fits us. We need someone to play inside slot, in the nickel. He knows our defense.
“We’re not going to have to teach him our defense. Corey is a guy who can play Sunday against the Steelers, and he’s also going to play special teams. It makes a lot of sense.”
Harbaugh confirmed that Chris Carr will start at cornerback. Frank Walker is slated to fill in behind him in nickel duty.
The 5-foot-9, 190-pounder from Oklahoma was cut recently by the Steelers after playing in one game against Baltimore. Ivy was released by the Cleveland Browns during their final major roster cut heading into the regular season.
The Ravens evaluated former Baltimore Pro Bowl cornerback Chris McAlister, but were ultimately dissuaded based on his lackluster performance with the New Orleans Saints as well as his history of knee problems. They never contacted him or his agent.
“The two basic differences are Corey can play in the slot and Chris is an outside corner,” Harbaugh said when asked specifically why McAlister wasn’t signed. “We have depth there. Playing in the slot is difficult, it’s a linebacker position. All those reads are stuff Chris hasn’t done before. We also have some concerns about his health.
“I know darn well the fans are going to debate this one. We’re okay with that. I guarantee this: We’ve looked at it hard. We’re unanimous. It’s the best thing for us. Is it ideal? No, it’s not. I guarantee Corey Ivy will give it everything he’s got. I’m confident he’ll play well in this next game.”
McAlister has a history of off-field problems and had several run-ins with the coaching staff during his final season in Baltimore and was cut after last season. The former Pro Bowl cornerback described his departure as a bitter divorce when he signed with the Saints.
“I like Chris McAlister,” Harbaugh said. “I think Chris McAlister has had a great career. We respect Chris McAlister. Chris McAlister can’t play in the slot.
“We need a backup slot. We need someone who’s healthy. We’ve looked at the recent film of Corey Ivy and Chris. It’s clear-cut.”
The Ravens also brought in former St. Louis Rams cornerback Travis Fisher for a tryout as well as defensive linemen Jervonte Jackson and Willie Williams.
The Ravens held a preliminary discussion with former NFL cornerback Fakhir Brown, who last played in the United Football League with the Florida Tuskers, but didn’t bring him in for a tryout.
Ivy started 13 games in 2007 for the Ravens and recorded 63 tackles, three sacks and one interception.
During his last season in Baltimore, Ivy had 52 tackles, 2 ½ sacks and a forced fumble.
For his career, Ivy has played in 111 games with 209 tackles, 9 ½ sacks, three interceptions, six forced fumbles and one fumble recovery to go with his 97 special-teams tackles.
The Ravens also added some depth at safety by signing rookie Keith Fitzhugh off of the New York Jets’ practice squad. He’s an undrafted free agent who played at Mississippi State.
The Ravens made room for Fitzhugh by cutting defensive back Marcus Paschal, who was promoted to the active roster last weekend heading into the team’s 31-7 rout over the Chicago Bears.
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.