When the Ravens took the field during recent offseason practices, one newcomer was tough to miss.
Rookie defensive end Brent Urban stood out – both in stature and with a few impressive flash plays in the backfield. The fourth-round pick showed signs that he could be a valuable selection for the Ravens – sooner rather than later.
"I want to prove that I can make an impact right away," Urban said. "I feel like some people saw me as too much of a raw player, and I feel like I can bring an impact right away. I'm just going to come in and compete and work towards that goal."
Leading up to the draft, Urban heard all the chatter about him. Analysts all said that the 6-foot-7 defensive end out of Virginia had the tools to develop into a quality NFL player, but he still had a long way to go in his development.
"I saw the word 'raw' being thrown around a lot," he said. "I tend to shy away from that and think I can bring something right away."
Urban partly attributes the criticism he received to the fact that he's a native Canadian who grew up playing hockey. He likely could have pursued a professional hockey career, but he decided to go the football route instead.
Urban spent five years on the football team at Virginia, but he's still trying to shake the reputation that he's behind on his understanding of the game.
"Being a Canadian guy, most people like to characterize me by saying that I'm not up to speed on my football knowledge and stuff like that," Urban said.
A challenge for Urban when he first arrived in Baltimore was that he was still recovering from an ankle injury that shortened his final college season and continued to hinder him throughout the pre-draft process. The Ravens initially held him out of practice, but he was a full participant by the time minicamp concluded.
Urban even got some work with the first-team defense in a few practices.
At 6-7, 298 pounds, Urban is an imposing physical presence who has a similar build to veteran Ravens defensive end and fellow Virginia grad Chris Canty (6-7, 317).
"He's a long-armed, athletic guy," Canty said. "He's going to be a good football player. [He is] still feeling some things out in other areas, but those will come."
Urban and Canty will compete for playing time when the Ravens return for training camp later this month. Canty has the edge as a veteran who started 13 games last season for the Ravens, and Urban said he's looking to learn as much as possible from the 10-year pro.
The Ravens could also find a role for both defenders in the rotation, and Urban is out to show the coaching staff in camp that he's deserving of playing time once the season begins.
"I still feel like I have a long way to go just in terms of my potential, so I just have to keep getting better every day and things will come," Urban said.