Courtney Upshaw is only in his second season, but the linebacker's already showing his maturity.
The Ravens lost last year's leading sacker Paul Kruger to free agency. Upshaw, his immediate logical replacement, logged just 1.5 sacks as a rookie.
But Baltimore went out and signed one of the best pass rushers in the game, Elvis Dumervil.
The addition could mean Upshaw, the team's top draft pick last year, is once again a rotational player instead of a full-time starter. But it's something he took in stride.
"You've got to generate sacks and that's something I didn't do last year," Upshaw told BaltimoreRavens.com Tuesday. "I've got to produce and get better in that part of my game."
Upshaw left Alabama with 17.5 sacks, including 9.5 in his senior year. He said he came to the Ravens with a goal of notching at least five sacks, but ended the year with just 1.5.
Part of the reason why Upshaw didn't put up big sack numbers as a rookie is because he wasn't in many pass-rush situations. Once Terrell Suggs returned, Kruger handled many of the third downs.
"You can say that's why, but honestly I feel like that's an excuse," Upshaw said. "I had the opportunity, especially when Sizz was out, to get sacks early in the season. I didn't execute on my opportunity."
Upshaw said he came out of college being accustomed to overpowering tackles with his bull rush. That didn't fly in the NFL, where offensive tackles are smarter and stronger.
"A lot of times I found myself wrestling with tackles and not really working my hands," Upshaw said.
Upshaw sees Dumervil's arrival as a chance to learn better pass-rush technique. He picked up a lot from Suggs last year on how to set the edge and defend the run. Dumervil, who notched 11 sacks last year and led the NFL in sacks in 2009 with 17, can help Upshaw with his rush.
"Honesty, it's another opportunity to learn from him, just like I was learning from Sizz and taking pointers from him," Upshaw said. "He's another guy who can teach me some things."
Upshaw will likely still be a large part of the Ravens' base run-stopping defense. But if he wants to be on the field in pass-rush situations, he may have to find a way to do it alongside both Suggs and Dumervil.
Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees has long preached flexibility to his players. He wants them to know all the positions so he doesn't have a better player next to him on the sideline than somebody in the game just because they don't know that spot.
Pees alluded to the possibility of using Upshaw as an inside linebacker in pass-rush situations. Upshaw said he would be open to learning and playing some inside linebacker.
"I love this game so much. I just want to be on that field and it doesn't matter what situation," Upshaw said.
"I feel I'm an outside linebacker, but with the addition of Elvis and the guys they brought in, there is going to be a lot of competition out there. If it's me moving to another position, I'm down for it. I just want to be on that field."