Kyle Van Noy catches himself when he starts to call himself old. "Experienced" is more preferable.
At 32 years old and in his 10th NFL season, Van Noy has three sacks in his first four games as a Raven and he feels like he's just taking off.
"Honestly, it's something I knew was going to happen. It was getting the right opportunity," Van Noy said on "The Lounge" podcast this week.
"I feel like I'm in my prime. A lot of changes in the NFL with teams going way younger, but I feel like I'm now hitting my stride as a rusher and a player."
Van Noy takes some offense to people being surprised by his hot start in Baltimore. Dating back to last season, he has eight sacks in his last nine games. He registered a sack in five straight games down the stretch for the Los Angeles Chargers.
533: Kyle Van Noy Explains Why He Has a Chip on His Shoulder, How He Became a Raven, Why You Shouldn't Be Surprised By His Hot Start
Ravens OLB Kyle Van Noy talks about how he's 'ballin from the couch,' what led him to Baltimore, why the best is yet to come, and more. Plus our insiders, Mink and Garrett, preview the Week 8 game against the Arizona Cardinals.
"I always feel like I've been undervalued and underestimated," Van Noy said. "When teams get me, it's a surprise like, 'Woah, we didn't know you could do this!' I'm like, 'Well, were you watching film?' It's me being the player I am and having that chip on my shoulder."
The chip on Van Noy's shoulder has practically become an appendage by this point. The Detroit Lions drafted him early in the second round (No. 40 overall) in 2014, but Van Noy didn't see much playing time. He had zero starts, 16 tackles, and one sack in his first two seasons.
Van Noy said his position coach in Detroit told him he was a good player, but that the team didn't know where to play him. Midway through his third season, Van Noy was traded by new General Manager Bob Quinn to the New England Patriots.
Van Noy won a Super Bowl with the Patriots in that first partial season with them, then had a breakout season the following year in 2017 and was a big part of another Super Bowl victory. Van Noy was a versatile, key player in Bill Belichick's defense for four seasons.
When he became a free agent before the 2020 season, Van Noy cashed in with a four-year, $51 million contract with the Miami Dolphins. But even after Van Noy had one of his best seasons, they shockingly released him just one year into the deal.
Van Noy bounced back to New England for a season, then to Los Angeles, and now to Baltimore – his fourth team in four years.
Van Noy visited the Ravens in July but didn't sign because they were too far apart on money and his role, he said. So he waited, watching football games from his couch like any other fan and setting up his own cone drills in the backyard to stay in shape.
The Las Vegas Raiders were also interested in him, but after injuries to pass rushers David Ojabo and Odafe Oweh the Ravens called again and the decision was easy. He signed with the Ravens on Sept. 27 and immediately made his impact felt in a win in Cleveland four days later.
A tumultuous, yet productive, career has left a fire in Van Noy's belly to prove he's still a premier player even at his age and in a young man's league. He has logged at least five sacks in each of the past four seasons and is on pace for a career high in sacks this season.
"He was really strong at the end of the game this last week, and he's playing great football," Head Coach John Harbaugh said.
Van Noy says Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald has put he and Jadeveon Clowney, another veteran outside linebacker thriving this year, in good positions to succeed, allowing them to "be ourselves." Van Noy feels his ability to focus on rushing the passer, instead of all the coverage and sometimes inside linebacker duties he had earlier in his career, has allowed him to thrive.
"For a long time, I played multiple positions, wherever there was an injury. Wherever I was needed I went," Van Noy said. "I performed at a high level, but I was never able to do one thing really, really well. Now that I've been able to focus on pass rush, I'm able to do it really, really well.
"Honestly, I think it's just the chip on our shoulders that we both have. J.D. (Clowney) has a big chip on his shoulder and I do too. We want to make game-changing plays and we've done it in our careers."