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Haloti Ngata Hopes To Play More Inside


Haloti Ngata simply doesn't feel like a defensive end.

It's not a surprise for the 6-foot-4, 340-pound behemoth. He likes to be banging with the big guys, dominating opposing guards with his size and speed.

With the addition of free agent, big-bodied defensive linemen Chris Canty and Marcus Spears, Ngata should get his wish. And he could be even more dominant.

"I like being inside, closer to combat," Ngata told early this week.

Last year, Ngata played a little bit everywhere.

He often lined up outside the guard and took on two blockers on the defensive line's edge. He was there because the Ravens were looking for a solution to help their run game and were low on numbers due to injuries and the departure of Cory Redding.

Ngata had another Pro Bowl season and five sacks, but he wasn't as crushing as he would have liked for chunks of the season, in part because of shoulder and knee injuries. He dropped from 64 tackles to 51, and the Ravens run defense fell to 20th in the league.

A move inside for Ngata could help restore Baltimore's run-stopping defense to its stingy ways.

Head Coach John Harbaugh said adding Canty and Spears "definitely marks the possibility [Ngata] could play inside more."

"Our bell cow in there is Haloti. He's our best player inside, he's probably the best [interior] player in the National Football League," Harbaugh said at the owners meetings.

"I know Haloti is really, really motivated to have a great year. I've had conversations with him and he's looking forward to next year. He's going to be a great player for us. Adding those guys and putting the pieces around him is a huge part of what we're doing."

Canty and Spears bring eight years each of run-stopping experience. That's what both have been best known for over their careers.

"I think it definitely will help. I'm real happy about it," Ngata said of the signings. "Just watching Spears and Canty throughout the years, they've done a lot of good things. It's good to have veteran guys on the D-line again."

Ngata said he trains in the offseason for defensive tackle and nose tackle type work. He said he typically doesn't expect to be at defensive end much because his body and game aren't made for that work.

"All the space, I just don't like it because they can read you that much longer," he said. "I'm good with whatever, but if I have to go play nose or inside more, that would be awesome. I would rather stay inside than outside. That's where I'm more comfortable."

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