When the Ravens chose linebacker Courtney Upshaw in the second round of this year’s draft, there was much discussion about how pro-ready he was, coming out of Alabama.
And he took all the first team work in the spring, building on that impression.
But when Upshaw showed up at training camp over his target weight, and then suffered a shoulder sprain, he opened the door to competition for a starting job.
Second-year linebacker Albert McClellan has started both preseason games in his place, and Ravens coach John Harbaugh said it would be “pretty presumptuous” to assume Upshaw would be given a starting job.
“You’ve got to earn your stripes. You’ve got to earn your position, no matter what,” Harbaugh said, via Matt Vensel of the Baltimore Sun. “I don’t know why a lot of people would think that. It’s pretty presumptuous. The best guys play.
Upshaw played with the ones and twos last week, but didn’t show up in the stat sheet (while McClellan, an undrafted rookie from Marshall has impressed).
Harbaugh said McClellan was performing at a “really high level.”
“You can probably describe Albert as a guy who is steady in all areas,” Harbaugh said. “He’s a good pass rusher. He’s kind of a leverage rusher. He can bend the edge and get leverage underneath the offensive lineman. He’s solid against the run. He sets the edge well. He does a nice job with his pass drops. He’s a guy with no real weakness. I’d say he’s plusses all across the board.”
That’s not to say they’re disappointed in Upshaw, he’s just not where many expected him to be, and the Ravens don’t seem inclined to wait.