C.J. Mosley's Next Step: Improving Coverage


Just about everything has gone right this season for Ravens rookie linebacker C.J. Mosley.

The first-round pick won a starting job early in training camp, emerged as one of Baltimore's top defenders and is a leading candidate in the Defensive Rookie of the Year race.

But he's still growing and looking for ways to develop his game, and at the top of his list is improving in pass coverage after the Steelers challenged him with talented running back Le'Veon Bell.

"This past game was a great test for me," Mosley said. "I had a few plays where I was in man coverage on Bell. You just have to learn every game."

Bell finished with five catches for 38 yards and a touchdown. He also drew a pass interference call on Mosley. Bell's touchdown was Pittsburgh's first score of the game, and it came with Mosley in tight coverage.

The biggest hurdle for Mosley in improving as a coverage linebacker is adjusting to the way offenses play in the NFL. Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees pointed to the fact that the college game is much different in how offenses are structured, and Mosley is learning on the fly.

"In college ball it's not really a drop-back game anymore," Pees said. "Everything is kind of off the option reads and play-actions and all that kind of stuff."

Inside linebackers that play every down are a rare breed in the NFL. They need to have the size to shake off tackles from offensive linemen, and the speed to run with running backs or tight ends. Mosley has proven he has the ability of a three-down linebacker, and he's played more defensive snaps than any other player on the team.

His focus now is to continue fine tuning his game, and the Ravens are confident that will come with time.

"To me with C.J., he has all the talent, all the knowledge, all of that stuff," Pees said. "Now it's just a matter of the more he sees it, the better he'll be."

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