When the Ravens lost linebacker Terrell Suggs to an Achilles tendon injury, they were considering themselves lucky that they drafted Alabama linebacker Courtney Upshaw the day before Suggs got hurt.
But that doesn’t mean Upshaw sees himself as Suggs’ replacement. Upshaw doesn’t think anyone can replace Suggs.
“The coaches told me to come out here this mini-camp and learn the defense, come out here and compete,” Upshaw told Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. “Honestly, speaking on Suggs, there’s only one Suggs. You can’t replace Suggs. Everybody’s got to come in as a team. The veteran leadership on this team is not going to allow slacking on my part or anybody else’s. Everybody’s gotta step up.”
Upshaw is right, of course, that no one can replace everything Suggs does in the Ravens’ defense. Suggs wasn’t named Defensive Player of the Year last season because he’s expendable.
But the Ravens, who are optimistic that Suggs will play at some point during the 2012 season, got a rookie who has many of the same skills that Suggs brings to the table when they drafted Upshaw.