“The Competition” is a series that breaks down every Ravens position battle leading up to training camp.
Suggs signed a four-year contract extension this offseason, ensuring that he will retire a Raven. Now he’s looking to finish with a bang. Suggs racked up nine sacks through the first half of the season, but had just one in his final eight games. Suggs attributed in-season weight gain to the sluggish end. He’s back in tip-top shape this offseason and determined to stay that way.
Dumervil had a similar season to Suggs. He had 8.5 sacks in his first nine games, but just one sack in his final seven. Dumervil was still a force off the edge, and gave the Ravens one of the league’s top pass-rushing duos. He’s added more bulk this offseason in hopes of being more physically able to handle the brutal AFC North and perhaps hold up better versus the run.
Upshaw’s stats took a dip in his second year with the arrival of Dumervil. He fell from 60 tackles to 30 as a sophomore. Upshaw got more starts, but fewer overall snaps. He’s still a very physical player on the edge and does a lot of the dirty work in the Ravens defense. He’s working to be better in coverage this year.
Because of injuries and not having many opportunities to see the field, McPhee hasn’t made the same impact since his rookie season in 2011. He had six sacks that year, but just 3.5 since. McPhee feels his pass-rush skills are better than ever and is eager for a bigger role somewhere on the defense. His goal is to lead the team in sacks.
Simon mostly contributed to special teams work during his rookie season. He played in seven games and made four tackles. The fourth-round pick out of Ohio State will need to continue to evolve and become a key special teams player with the hope of seeing some defensive action in certain packages. He is a physical, hard-working player who has pass-rush potential.
Roberts was signed after rookie camp. The Tennessee-Martin product notched 53 tackles (23 solo), 11 tackles for loss, four sacks and a forced fumble during his senior year. He logged 12.5 career sacks.
The Ravens signed DiMarco after inviting him to minicamp on a tryout basis. The William Penn pass-rushing standout had a school-record 13 sacks last season, along with 55 tackles, 26 for losses, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and three blocked kicks.
The starting positions are locked up by Suggs and a combination of Dumervil and Upshaw opposite him. Dumervil is on the field in pass-rush situations while Upshaw is generally relied on more against the run. All three complement each other well. They need to play all year like they did at the start of the 2013 campaign.
The competition for time lies behind them. McPhee and Simon are two talented players , but there aren’t many opportunities to go around on defense. McPhee has shown his promise when given the chance and is trying to beat out some of the veterans for snaps.
Overall, this is one of the deepest and most determined positions on the roster. There likely won’t be a lot of change from last year, barring injury.