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The Competition 2014: Inside Linebackers

Posted Jul 1, 2014

The battle for a starting job will be one of the most intriguing competitions of training camp.


“The Competition” is a series that breaks down every position battle leading up to training camp.

Returning Players

Daryl Smith (6-foot-2, 248 pounds, 11th season)

In his first season with the Ravens, Smith took over Ray Lewis’ middle linebacker spot and filled in seamlessly. He led the Ravens with 123 tackles and played nearly every defensive snap of the season. Smith will once again be one of the veteran leaders in the middle of the defense. The Ravens re-signed Smith to a four-year contract this offseason, and he said he hopes to spend the rest of his career in Baltimore.

Arthur Brown (6-0, 235, second season)


Brown was the Ravens’ second-round pick last year, and he was primarily used in passing situations and on special teams. Brown has the speed to run with tight ends and running backs in pass coverage, which is why the Ravens used him in nickel packages. Brown put a focus on adding weight this offseason so that he can be a three-down linebacker, and he has his sights on a starting job.

Josh Bynes (6-1, 240, third season)

Bynes has been an underrated and reliable linebacker during his time in Baltimore. He made his way from the practice squad to the active roster, and he has starting experience because of injuries the last two years. Bynes started the first six games last season while Jameel McClain was coming back from an injury, and gives the Ravens good depth at the position. 

Albert McClellan (6-2, 245, fourth season)

McClellan is another former undrafted linebacker who has been a reliable special teams player and spot starter for the Ravens. He has moved between inside and outside linebacker during his career, but he has settled inside for the last two seasons.

Newcomers

Austin Spitler (6-2, 250, fifth season)

The Ravens signed Spitler after he tried out during mandatory minincamp. Spitler played for the Miami Dolphins the first four years of his career and was primarily a special teamer. He will likely have to prove his worth as a special teams ace to make the 53-man roster in Baltimore. 

Rookies

C.J. Mosley (6-2, 235)

The Ravens first-round pick is the team’s highest selection (No. 17) since taking Haloti Ngata at No. 12 in 2006. With such a high pick, the Ravens expect Mosley to be a difference maker for the defense. Mosley was an All-American during his college career at Alabama, and he is expected to earn a starting spot next to Smith.

Zach Orr (6-0, 237)

The Ravens signed Orr as an undrafted free agent, and he has plenty of good competition ahead of him. Orr’s path to a roster spot is likely through special teams, where he will have to shine during training camp and the preseason.

Frontrunners

The competition at inside linebacker will be one of the most intriguing spots to watching during training camp, as Mosley and Brown will be in a tight race to start next to Smith. The coaching staff has praised Brown’s development going into his second season, as Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees said that Brown is “light years” ahead of this time last offseason. Brown’s development will make it difficult for Mosley to immediately earn a starting job.

Brown was primarily the one working with the starting defense during the offseason program, but Mosley took reps with the first-team by the end of minicamp. That competition will be decided during training camp once the players put on the pads.

Outside of the two starting positions, there will be good competition for playing time and roster spots between Bynes, McClellan and Spitler. The Ravens have traditionally kept four or five inside linebackers on the 53-roster, so those final spots will likely come down to special teams. All three of those veterans have experience in that area, and Bynes and McClellan have been key special teamers for the Ravens the last few years.

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