The Ravens' deluge of injuries early this season has left them spending a lot of time uttering the "next man up" mantra.
The Ravens' losses at wide receiver, outside linebacker and cornerback have stuck out like a sore thumb. Another spot that has been missing a starter is at defensive end, but that's gone largely unnoticed because of one Raven.
Lawrence Guy has stepped up admirably for veteran Chris Canty (calf) for the past three games. During that time, Guy has logged 15 tackles and two sacks, both coming last Sunday against the Browns.
"Lawrence has played really well," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "He's physical, rushes the passer – had a couple sacks, pressured the quarterback."
Now the question is whether Guy has earned the starting job moving forward. Canty made two tackles, including one sack, in his two starts to begin the season. Even if Guy isn't the starter, he is making a case for the lion's share of snaps.
"[On the] defensive line, you rotate guys. So, they'll both play a ton when Chris comes back," Harbaugh said.
Guy saw 63 snaps while Canty was on the field for the first two games. Guy got 62 snaps in the next two games without Canty. Guy's snap count jumped last week to 48, but that was also because the defense was on the field for a whopping 90 plays.
Guy, 25, has carved out a nice niche. The Ravens signed him to the active roster last year after he was let go by the San Diego Chargers. Guy immediately stepped into the defensive line rotation, playing in 11 games and making 16 tackles.
At 6-foot-4, 305 pounds, he has good size. The former 2011 seventh-round pick (Green Bay Packers) has taken to coaching well and plays with an edge that doesn't jive with his soft-spoken nature. Now with his fourth team in five seasons, he's putting it all together.
Guy had only one career sack entering Sunday's game. He had two in the first half.
On the first sack, Browns quarterback Josh McCown tried to come underneath of Guy to escape pressure, but Guy ripped him down with one arm. The third-down sack forced the Browns to settle for a field goal. Guy's second sack also forced a field goal, and came when he simply overwhelmed Browns left guard Joel Bitonio.
"Team effort right there," Guy said. "We've got a whole line getting penetration, and I got free and got a couple sacks. But I give credit to everybody on that D-line that helped out for that."
Guy picked up a tough roughing the pass penalty in the second quarter when he shoved McCown to the ground after he let go of a pass – a pass that was intercepted by cornerback Lardarius Webb. The penalty wiped the interception off the board, but the Ravens defense eventually forced a punt anyway thanks in part to Guy, who had a tackle for loss on the next play.
While Harbaugh was critical of some of the Ravens' penalties, he sided with Guy on the roughing the passer call, saying it came within the rules the league has previously set.
"We're going to try to figure out how to coach that differently somehow," Harbaugh said. "When the league can explain to us what they want, we'll get it coached differently."