DeAngelo Tyson has a big opportunity in front of him.
The third-year defender could step into a significantly elevated role in 2014, helping replace defensive tackle Arthur Jones, who left Baltimore in free agency to sign a $33 million contract with the Indianapolis Colts.
Tyson is one of the key pieces the Ravens are counting on to help offset the loss of Jones, who was one of the team's most reliable players last season.
"Now it's time for someone else to step up," Tyson said. "I look at free agency like seniors leaving in college, and then somebody young has to step up. I'm one of those young guys. I have to step up this year."
Tyson has followed a similar path to Jones during his time in the league.
Jones was a fifth-round pick who played sparingly his rookie season and then became a rotational player the next year. By his third season, Jones was a key part of the defensive line and he eventually went on to get the big contract after starting 13 games last year.
Tyson was a seventh-round draft pick for the Ravens in 2012, and he has been a rotational lineman during his first two years in the NFL. He has racked up 21 tackles, two sacks and an interception in his career.
"I've progressed pretty well and now I want to progress from Year Two to Year Three, and continue learning from the other guys," Tyson said. "I'm just trying to stay consistent and show the coaches and players that they can trust me, and that I can do whatever they need to help the team win."
The defensive line will have a slightly different look compared to last season after the departure of Jones and infusion of young talent. The Ravens want to get second-year nose tackle Brandon Williams more playing time and they also added defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan in the second round of the draft.
Perennial Pro Bowler Haloti Ngata is still the anchor of the unit, and the Ravens have the luxury of rotating multiple pieces around him in a variety of defensive fronts. Tyson, 6-foot-2 and 315 pounds, is a good match for that kind of approach because he has the flexibility to play multiple positions along the line.
"I just like to do anything to help the team win, so it's playing anywhere on the defensive line," Tyson said. "I know the versatility I have is a good thing."
Tyson will compete for playing time with Jernigan and veteran defensive end Chris Canty when training camp opens later this month, and the next few weeks will be critical to show he can make an impact in the lineup.
"I have to continue to work. Nothing is going to be given to me. There is great competition everywhere, so you have to go out there and compete," Tyson said. "Competition builds depth, and as everybody competes and everybody gets better, we'll have a lot of depth on the defensive line."