Returning PlayersHaloti Ngata (6-foot-4, 340 pounds, eighth season):
The veteran lineman is the anchor of the Ravens defensive front, and this offseason they built around him in the middle. Some of the additions to the line will allow the four-time Pro Bowler to play more inside rather than sliding out to defensive end. He's hoping to have a big season after injuries limited his production in each of the last two seasons.Terrence Cody (6-4, 341, fourth season):
The former second-round pick is working his way back from offseason hip surgery, and he's hoping to regain the starting job that he held in 2011. The injury held Cody out of all offseason practices. He has potential to be a dominant run stuffer, but injuries have hampered his effectiveness and he said too much weight loss hindered his strength last season. He's heading into the final year of his contract and is motivated to have a big season.Free-Agent SigningMarcus Spears (6-4, 315, ninth season):
The Ravens brought in the veteran defender to help the run defense, which struggled last year. Spears is a proven run stuffer, and he's a versatile lineman that will allow Ngata to play more inside. Spears has spent the last eight years with the Dallas Cowboys, and now the Ravens will look for him to bolster the front line.Chris Canty (6-7, 317):
Canty also came to Baltimore as part of the effort to strengthen the defensive line. He drew rave reviews during his performance at offseason practices, and he has the versatility to play multiple spots along the line. He is powerful enough to play tackle, or he could also move outside and play end in some situations. Canty is a good pass rusher, so he could capitalize on single blockers when pass rushers like Terrell Suggs
and Elvis Dumervil
attract outside attention.RookiesBrandon Williams (6-1, 335):
The third-round pick has all the physical tools to be an effective lineman at the professional level. He dominated the small-school level at Division II school Missouri Southern State, and he's earned positive reviews during his first few months in Baltimore. Williams has his eyes on a starting job, and he'll challenge Cody for playing time at nose tackle.Cody Larsen (6-4, 300):
The undrafted free agent signed with the Ravens after registering 48 tackles and 6.5 sacks last season for Southern Utah. As an undrafted prospect, it will be challenging for him to make the roster, but he could carve out a niche with a strong training camp.The Frontrunners
The clear leader of this group is veteran Haloti Ngata, who is one of the NFL's most dominant players when healthy. He showed that at the beginning of last year before getting slowed by knee and shoulder injuries. The additions of Spears and Canty will allow Ngata to stay inside, where he is most comfortable and able to make the most of his size and quickness. The depth up front will also allow the Ravens to use a steady rotation throughout games, which should help Ngata stay healthy.
Next to Ngata, the Ravens will have Cody and Williams competing for time. They are both run-stuffing linemen motivated to earn a starting job. Cody's playing time will likely depend on how he bounces back from injury. Williams will have to show he's able to make the jump to the NFL going up against much tougher competition.
Canty and Spears give the Ravens depth and versatility, and will allow Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees to be creative in his front alignments. They could both play defensive tackle, allowing Ngata to play nose tackle, and they can also slide outside to play end. Their positions will likely depend on the situations, with Canty possibly playing more on passing downs and Spears getting the reps in running situations.
Overall, the group looks much improved from last season, and the Ravens hope that the offseason additions will allow Ngata to be the explosive player he can be.