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Ravens' Defensive Speed Has 'Improved A Lot'

Posted Jun 11, 2014

Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees sees great team speed with the infusion of youth.


Watching Ravens first-round inside linebacker C.J. Mosley cover a running back is a sight to see.

He’s with him step-for-step, shadowing his every move. It’s easy to forget that Mosley outweighs the running back by about 20 pounds.

Movements like that have Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees excited about his unit during Ravens organized team activities (OTAs).

Yes, it's just OTAs and everyone looks fast in shorts. But Pees is trusting his eyes.

“I really do believe that we’ve gotten faster,” he said. “It sure looks like it, anyhow. I’m really hopeful of that. I think it’s going to show that it’s true.”

Over the past two years, the Ravens have replaced many of their aging defensive players with younger, faster ones. They drafted three defensive players with their top three picks, and all of them are known for their speed or explosiveness.

Instead of linebackers Ray Lewis and Jameel McClain, there’s Mosley and Arthur Brown. Both Mosley and Brown are in the new-age framework for inside linebackers – trimmed down but much more mobile.

Instead of safeties Ed Reed, Bernard Pollard and James Ihedigbo, there’s Matt Elam and rookie Terrence Brooks. Brooks ran the 40-yard dash in an impressive 4.42 seconds at the combine.

Instead of defensive end Arthur Jones, there’s rookie Timmy Jernigan, who is a gap slasher. Jernigan isn’t as hulking as Jones, but he’s quick. Instead of cornerback Corey Graham, there’s the younger Chykie Brown and Asa Jackson.

“I think [the speed] improved a lot,” Pees said. “It looks like it out here in OTAs.”

Pees knows the Ravens' true speed won't be as visible until the pads come on and they start playing games.

Baltimore will get an early test against it's AFC North foes in the first three weeks. The Ravens defense will face players such as Cincinnati running back Giovanni Bernard, Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown and Cleveland quarterback Johnny Manziel.

The division and the league is evolving, as well as team's rosters. And the Ravens have adapted with speed to keep up.

“You can’t keep the same guys forever,” Pees said. “We went through it in New England, when we started getting a little older, and we had to transition, and same thing here. The good thing about these young guys is that they’ve all come in and contributed.”

Some of the defense’s veterans have been missing from OTAs: linebacker Terrell Suggs, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, linebacker Daryl Smith and defensive end Chris Canty. That has given more opportunities to some of the younger players so far this summer. Pees specifically pointed to Elam and Brown.

“All those young guys have really been able to compete, plus the guys that we’ve drafted,” Pees said. “I think it’s going to be great competition. I think it’s only going to get better.”

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