Calais Campbell: Opposing Offenses 'Should Have Fear in Their Hearts'
Calais Campbell is not known for being braggadocious or speaking in hyperbole, so when the Pro Bowl defensive lineman says opposing offenses should fear the Ravens defense, they should be afraid. Very afraid.
"They should have fear in their hearts, because this defense is special," Campbell said on NFL Network's "Inside Training Camp Live." "When we go out there in practice, just seeing the mentality, seeing the kind of fierceness we play with. Everybody's locked in, engaged, just ready to take over.
"I'm going to tell you right now, this defense is going to lead the league in points scored. We have all kinds of goals. You always want to take it one day at a time; you never want to get too hyped. But I think this defense can be one of those very special defenses."
One of the main reasons the Ravens traded for Campbell this offseason is his ability to stop the run, which was a priority after Derrick Henry rushed for 195 yards in the Tennessee Titans' shocking upset of Baltimore in the playoffs. Campbell said the defense, which was ranked fourth in the league last season, has a chip on its shoulder because of that game.
"It's a big, big chip," Campbell said. "Guys are locked in and focused. The coaching staff, everybody's been pounding it in that we're going to be a team that stops the run. We're going to earn the right to rush the passer, but we're going to be the best run-stopping team in football this year. I believe that's why I'm here. That's why Derek Wolfe is here.
"We want to combat that zone offense and teams trying to run the ball, because this is a copycat league. Our coaches are smart; they understand that when a team experiences success against you, other teams are going to try to follow that same formula to beat you. And we're a tough team to beat, so that's something we're going to have to see until we stop it. I'm looking forward to it. I've never been more excited. I wake up every day excited to go to work because I know what we have here."
Campbell also had high praise for Lamar Jackson and said he can't wait to see what the MVP quarterback does this year.
"The guy's special. What he does out there, I've never seen it before," Campbell said. "The way he moves with the ball in his hand, and then while he's moving, running full speed in a different direction, throws the ball on a tight rope and puts it right on the money. It's just like, wow. You don't really see that too often.
"I'm excited for him because he's only getting better, he's getting wiser. Every rep he takes he's becoming more polished. … But at the end of the day, I know what he wants the most is that Lombardi Trophy, so we're on the same page with that one."
Ravens Have Built Winning Culture That's Well-Prepared to Handle Adversity
Head Coach John Harbaugh has made it clear that the Ravens are moving forward after parting ways with Pro Bowl safety Earl Thomas, and he reiterated that point with Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer.
"Our statement is gonna stand as it is," Harbaugh said. "The only thing I'd say from my perspective, I guess, is I'd wish Earl and his family the best, and I'd just leave it at that."
Breer said Harbaugh has established a winning culture in Baltimore that has the team well-prepared to handle any kind of adversity.
"As for Harbaugh's intention of moving on, I don't think finding guys to follow him will be a problem either," Breer wrote. "In fact, on the day I was out there – Saturday – the team was less than 24 hours removed from the incident, and without QB Lamar Jackson (he got a maintenance day), and practice was as smooth and efficient as any coach could've hoped for, even as the internet was buzzing about the drama.
"It looked, very much, like the team that was football's best over the first five months of the 2019 season, and whether it was Mark Ingram's constant chirping, or Brandon Williams' playful heckling of kicker Justin Tucker during a field-goal period, it seemed pretty clear that all the personality and swagger the Ravens had last year remains intact."
Harbaugh said the strong team chemistry is the result of a concerted effort by the organization to target players and coaches with specific qualities.
"You can have good chemistry when you have the right kind of people together," Harbaugh said. "We pretty much understand the type of players we like, the type of coaches we like, the values we set, the personality, the work ethic we look for. And that shared understanding of what it takes to be successful drives all that, I think. Then you have good guys who love to compete like Lamar and Mark Ingram and others that glue it all together."
Breer said the Ravens' track record shows they're "ready to lean in and swing at whatever curveball they get tossed next."
Browns Rookie Safety Grant Delpit Suffers Season-Ending Injury
When the Ravens host the Cleveland Browns in their regular-season opener, both teams will be without their projected starting free safeties.
Browns rookie Grant Delpit suffered a torn Achilles yesterday and is out for the season, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. For the Ravens, DeShon Elliott is expected to take over for Thomas.
Cleveland selected Delpit out of LSU in the second round with the 44th-overall pick. The winner of the Jim Thorpe Award, which is given to the nation's top defensive back, Delpit is the third projected defensive starter for the Browns who will be out for a significant length of time.