Matt Judon on the Verge of Eclipsing Terrell Suggs As Baltimore's Most Dangerous Pass Rusher
Twelve names of unheralded NFL players were listed.
Then, 12 roles were listed.
To test readers' pre-training camp knowledge, Peter King asked them to match one player with one role in a "Quiz of Unknowns" in his new Football Morning in America column for NBC Sports.
Unless you're an avid Ravens fan, you probably wouldn't have guessed who would fill this role:
"Leading candidate to replace one of the best NFL players of this century."
Terrell Suggs = one of the best players of this century
Matt Judon = leading candidate to replace Suggs
"Judon, an emerging star linebacker for the Ravens, was a fifth-round pick from Grand Valley (Mich.) State in 2016," King wrote. "After 12 sacks in two NFL years, this big-personality guy may be on the verge of eclipsing Suggs as Baltimore's most dangerous pass rusher."
Two things about this prediction.
First, you don't just "replace" somebody like Suggs, a.k.a. "one of the best players of this century," a.k.a. "Sizzle," a.k.a. "Ball so Hard University." That wouldn't be fair to Judon, or anyone else. The same was true when the Ravens were tasked with finding another linebacker following the retirement of Hall of Famer Ray Lewis, perhaps the best leader of his generation.
That said, the best-case scenario in filling a Suggs void is exactly what happened with C.J. Mosley post- Lewis. Mosley has been to the Pro Bowl three times in his four NFL seasons, and he's been the perfect follow-up to Lewis without buckling under the pressure of comparisons. Mosley's his own man, with a very different personality from Lewis, but Mosley has excelled as the quarterback of the defense and was the perfect person to help the franchise transition away from Lewis.
Second, if Judon does eclipse Suggs as Baltimore's most dangerous pass rusher, whether this year or in the near future, that would be good news (assuming it's not because Suggs suddenly drops off and puts up low sack numbers). The 16-year veteran reported to offseason minicamp in phenomenal shape and continues to defy father time, but he's in the final year of his contract, and there's no doubt the Ravens need to start planning for life after him.
Also, Suggs could use a complementary premiere piece on the other side of the defensive line. You can never have too many pass rushers that can wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks. Having another serious threat would only help Suggs, who is frequently the focal point of opposing offensive lines and often gets double-teamed.
Consider 2014, when the Ravens boasted the league's second-ranked pass-rushing unit with 49 sacks. Suggs wasn't the leader that year. He still put up double digits sacks with 12, but Elvis Dumervil eclipsed him with 17. Pernell McPhee chipped in 7.5.
"When you've got two guys on the same defense like [Dumervil], you can't do anything but get better," Suggs said at the time.
Suggs hasn't had a true partner in crime since Dumervil left. So, if Judon could become that person, and yes, even eclipse a productive Suggs like Dumervil did, that would be a welcomed sight. Additionally, if second-year players Tyus Bowser and Tim Williams were to also take the next step and start chipping in with more pressure, then the Ravens would really have something in the works.
The question is, can Judon do it?
He's got the experience (third year). He's got the personality (loud and brash like Suggs). He's got the determination (he said he wants to lead the league in sacks). He's got the opportunity (the unquestioned starter opposite Suggs).
Now, he's just got to do it.
Ray Lewis Among Many Celebrities to Lose Hordes of Followers After Twitter's Fake Account Purge
The great Twitter purge came, as promised, and it conquered.
Last Thursday, the social media company deleted accounts it deemed "inactive," meaning whoever created them, stopped using the platform and didn't respond when Twitter sent a message essentially asking, "what's up?"
Among those hit hard by the purge was Lewis, who lost about half of his followers, dropping from 712,000 followers to 364,000.
"In January, the New York Times reported on Devumi, a company that sells followers and retweets to anyone who wanted to inflate their social media influence. Lewis, then with over 700,000 followers, was found to be a client," wrote The Baltimore Sun's Katherine Fominykh, who added Lewis bought 250,000 followers.
Lewis wasn't the only athlete, celebrity or public figure to lose hordes of Twitter followers. Former President Barack Obama lost the most followers (3 million) of anybody besides Twitter itself (7.7 million). Rihanna, Shaquille O'Neal, Taylor Swift, Kim Kardashian and Oprah collectively lost millions of followers.
"Twitter's move to purge locked accounts is part of its larger effort to safeguard the platform amid heightened scrutiny over the proliferation of trolls, fake news and disinformation on social networks," wrote CNN's Kaya Yurieff.
"It's long been an open secret that numerous Twitter users rely on bogus accounts and bots to inflate their follower count. Others are unwittingly followed by accounts that have gone dormant. Mounting attention to the issue may have forced the company to address the problem and boost its credibility."
Who Will Win the AFC North Crown? Ravens-Steelers Week 9 Street Fight Could Determine the Victor
ESPN continued its series of division questions and predictions, with the latest asking who will win the AFC North.
All four division reporters predicted that the Steelers, who will return with nearly their entire starting corps intact, will take the AFC North crown for the fourth time in five years. But they also pointed to the Ravens as the team with the most potential to knock Pittsburgh off its perch.
"Pittsburgh will win the division, while the Ravens will join them in the playoffs," wrote ESPN Steelers reporter Jeremy Fowler. "The Bengals' playoff window with Andy Dalton appears to be closing, and even the most ardent Browns supporters aren't expecting postseason football.
"That Week 9 Steelers-Ravens street fight in Baltimore should determine the divisional trajectory."
Even though Fowler and the other reporters see Baltimore as the biggest threat, they still have questions about the Ravens' ability to truly challenge the Steelers.
Baltimore's passing attack will feature a completely new arsenal of weapons, which gives an air of mystery around the offense because nobody can truly predict how all the pieces will come together. The Ravens' recent playoff history also gives the reporters pause.
"The Ravens have a shot at being the second playoff team in the division after adding some new blood to a sputtering passing attack, but Baltimore has come up short the past two seasons," wrote Jamison Hensley.
"It's difficult to give a vote of confidence to the Ravens until they return to the postseason for the first time since 2014. Baltimore looks like a 9-7 team, and the Ravens will have increased competition for those wild-card spots with the returns of Andrew Luck and Deshaun Watson."
Tony Jefferson Got Married!
Congratulations to Ravens safety Tony Jefferson, who got married over the weekend.
Jefferson snuck in the wedding just before the start of training camp, as the sixth-year player must report with the rest of the veterans on Wednesday.
That means the honeymoon will have to be cut short. Jefferson and his wife didn't have many dates to choose from because minicamp wrapped on June 14, giving players just a month off before training camp starts.
Jefferson shared some "bro time" with fellow safety Eric Weddle, who supported his good friend and teammate on his big day.
- "Aside from [Ronnie] Stanley manning the left tackle position, there are a plethora of questions facing this unit," Ed Lee wrote in his offensive line preview. "How will the 33-year-old [Marshal] Yanda fare at right guard after sitting out the past 14 games because of a fractured left ankle? Can [Matt] Skura anchor the center spot or could [Alex] Lewis be the answer there? Will [James] Hurst fare well enough to cement himself as the starting right tackle or could [Orlando] Brown, the third-round selection, start there in his first year? The preseason will be a significant test for many of these players." [The Baltimore Sun]