Courtney Upshaw Gets Much-Needed Reps


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On his first series Friday night versus Detroit, Ravens rookie outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw got taken down by a chop block.

"They got me good," Upshaw said. "These guys know what they're doing. In college, you have guys that don't know what they're doing, they can kind of do the wrong thing sometimes."

The Ravens' top draft pick this April didn't flash in his first NFL game. But he did get a valuable learning experience.

Considering Upshaw missed the first preseason game due to a shoulder injury, Head Coach John Harbaugh and Upshaw were just happy to get him some reps. Upshaw came in with the second-team defense after Albert McClellan got the start.

"Nothing stood out that I saw," Harbaugh said of Upshaw's performance. "I think he played hard. It's good to get him out there, he needs to play."

Upshaw said he had one tackle on his first series, but it's not recorded in the official stat sheet. He nearly got a sack on backup quarterback Shaun Hill, but Hill dumped the ball off as Upshaw was wrapped around his legs.

Upshaw said he wanted to be more productive in his first game, but maintained the he will make big plays this year. He did show good push into the backfield on his pass rushes.

"I really wanted that [sack]. I knew once I made a play I was going to be ready to go," Upshaw said. "I kind of felt a little slow, I missed the first game and just getting that game experience. But, in the second half, I read it good and was able to stay on my feet."

Upshaw was most happy about his knowledge of the defense. He knew what he was doing on every play. He was less thrilled about his discipline.

Upshaw lined up offsides in the second quarter, giving Detroit a free first down on the brink of the red zone after an incompletion would have brought up fourth down. Two plays later, the Lions were in the end zone.

"I am just looking at the ball, and it cost seven points," Upshaw said. "I am sure coach is going to talk about that with me when we get back to it, and it's something I'm going to take to practice."

On the other side of the defense, starting outside linebacker Paul Kruger also had an up-and-down game.

The good was that he finished with four tackles and a pass deflection when he moved well into coverage in the flats. The bad was that he could have had an interception (and possible score), and he was flagged for a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty.

"I was in the right place at the right time," Kruger said. "There were just a few plays I wish I could have had. It's one of those things where I wish I could go back in time. That interception, I definitely should have had."

Kruger also felt he could have had a couple more tackles, and was late on some of the ones he made. But overall, he felt he was in the right spot.

He's hoping he doesn't get a letter about his helmet-to-helmet hit on Matthew Stafford after the Lions quarterback delivered a 24-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter.

"I was just trying to be aggressive, trying to get there before he released the ball and trying to get my head down," Kruger said. "It's just one of those things where you're going to have to learn to start to do more often or else you're going to be paying hefty fines every week."

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