Don "Wink" Martindale had to consciously contain his excitement when introducing Elvis Dumervil to the Baltimore media Tuesday afternoon.
"I want to make sure that I don't say 'excited' and 'happy' 7,000 times with this," the Ravens inside linebackers coach said with a laugh.
Martindale won't be Dumervil's position coach in Baltimore, but he coached him once as linebackers coach and for another year as defensive coordinator when they were together in Denver (2009-2010).
If anybody knows Dumervil, it's Martindale. And he gave Baltimore a good idea of the player it's getting.
Martindale painted Dumervil as not only a good friend and person, but also as a sacking machine who will work hard and make big plays when it counts most.
"Elvis and I got really close back in Denver, not just because of the player that he is – although that helps when he is sacking the quarterback – but also as a person," Martindale said.
"I think the thing that Elvis has always shown year in and year out is telling him he can't do something, and he gets it done. There's no task too big for him."
Dumervil came out of Louisville as a decorated college pass rusher. He chased Terrell Suggs' single-season sack record (20.5) and fell just short with 17.
But there were questions about whether he would be able to hold up in the NFL considering his 5-foot-11 frame. Was he too small?
"When Elvis came out from Louisville, he said, 'I'm the best pass rusher in the draft,'" Martindale recalled. "And all he's done year in and year out is he's tried to be the best pass rusher. Not to take away from any of the other great pass rushers in this league, but his numbers show you he's been really successful."
Since then, Dumervil has notched 63.5 sacks during his seven years in the league. He had a league-leading 17 in 2009 and 11 last year. He's a three-time Pro Bowler.
Still, Dumervil was asked about height on Tuesday.
"Here we go with the short jokes," the linebacker said with a laugh.
"First of all, he's six-foot, alright?" Martindale said, jokingly sticking up for Dumervil. "We've had that argument for years. Six-foot. I'm 6'3, but he's six-foot."
Dumervil has made his shorter stature an advantage. It's given him leverage against taller offensive tackles, allowing him to get under their pads and use his strength as a bull rush. He has enough speed as well to bend underneath them as he comes off the edge.
"I think the game of football is played with leverage," Dumervil said. "Coach is always teaching pad level, and leaning and leverage. I guess I have instant leverage, so that helps."
What Ravens fans don't know yet about Dumervil is that he has a knack for the big play in the big moment. Martindale remembered having playmakers in Denver with cornerback Champ Bailey and safety Brian Dawkins. Dumervil stood out even amongst them.
Over the past five years, 20 of Dumervil's sacks have come on third down, which is tied for the seventh-most in the league, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
"Elvis always seemed like the guy that made the play," Martindale said. "That's the biggest thing that stood out to me."