When the Ravens lost last year’s leading sacker, Paul Kruger, to free agency, the original plan was to fill that hole in the defense with 2012 second-round draft pick Courtney Upshaw. But then the Ravens got an even better replacement for Kruger when they signed Elvis Dumervil. So does that mean Upshaw will be only a backup, situational player on the Ravens’ defense this season?
Not according to Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees, who said on 105.7 The Fan in Baltimore that he envisions a scenario in which Suggs, Dumervil and Upshaw are all on the field together at the same time.
“He’ll be in competition as an outside ‘backer out there,” Pees said of Upshaw, via the Carroll County Times. “That’s where we’ll start him out. But the other thing is that you can’t have too many pass rushers, and we can find a way to get them all on the field now. We can scheme up some things to get all those guys on the field.”
One of the things that made Upshaw an attractive prospect coming out of Alabama last year was his versatility, and Pees alluded to the possibility that Upshaw could play more at inside linebacker, where the Ravens lost Dannell Ellerbe to the Dolphins and Ray Lewis to retirement.
“The way we teach this defense, all the [linebackers] have to know all four spots . . . I’ve always told these guys that I don’t want a good player standing on the sideline by me with a player out there on the field that I don’t think is as good because you can’t play another position. So, our guys have always learned a lot of different spots,” Pees said.
With the additions of Dumervil, Chris Canty and Marcus Spears, the Ravens will have a lot of guys they can put into a lot of different spots in their front seven. The talk from the early days of free agency that the Ravens’ defense was in big trouble looks a lot different now.