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Matthew Judon Welcomes Yannick Ngakoue With Open Arms

Left: DE Yannick Ngakoue; Right; OLB Matthew Judon
Left: DE Yannick Ngakoue; Right; OLB Matthew Judon

After the trade for Yannick Ngakoue, Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale personally told Eric DeCosta that he's his "favorite person in the world." When the Ravens general manager announced the move to the defensive coaches, they gave him a standing ovation.

But how would outside linebacker Matthew Judon take the news? Judon and Ngakoue were both given the franchise tag this offseason, meaning they're both looking for long-term extensions after the season is done. And they both hope that it comes from Baltimore.

The answer is that Judon is handling the addition like a pro, welcoming Ngakoue with open arms.

"The front office assessed where we were and they got us some more help. Eric and those guys up there, Ozzie [Newsome], they did a great job. They saw an opportunity and they seized that opportunity," Judon said in a one-on-one interview for Ravens Report.

"We got Yannick in here. I think that's just going to propel our defense to where we want to go. I think we were playing good football, but I also think we can play a lot better – more four-man rushes, getting more pressure on the quarterback and making more negative plays."

As Judon made clear, the Ravens were already playing at a high level. They're No. 1 in the league in points allowed per game and have the second-most sacks in the league (22) among teams who have played six games, only trailing Pittsburgh (26). Judon has two sacks and 11 quarterback hits thus far.

But there's no doubt that adding Ngakoue to the other side of him takes Baltimore's pass rush to another level.

"Me as a leader and thinking we can do better, I think we can execute at a higher level," Judon said. "He's an excellent player. I think he has a nose for the ball, I think he knows how to get to the quarterback, I think he knows how to win rushes."

Judon and Ngakoue both came into the league in 2016. Ngakoue, a University of Maryland product, was a third-round pick and Judon came out of Grand Valley State in the fifth round. Since then, Judon said he has been keeping an eye on Ngakoue's progress.

"He's a great player. He demands attention," Judon said. "That's just going to help us as outside linebacker and edge rushers be better. I think our room got a lot better. Teams are going to have to pick their poison."

The Ravens can figure out futures and contracts after the season. They can't negotiate with franchise-tagged players during the season anyway. But it's clear from DeCosta's move and Judon's reaction that everyone is on the same page. The Ravens have an opportunity to win a championship this season, and their already ferocious defense just got even more bite to help them accomplish it.

"We're going to see, ain't we? Talk is cheap. We can talk about it as long as we want, but we're going to see," Judon said.

"He's a pretty cool dude, knows the game of football. He's just trying to learn our system as fast as he can and get in where he can fit in. But I think he's going to do very well for us. He's going to come in here and bring his style of play, but also adapt to the way we play football."

When the Ravens traded for cornerback Marcus Peters last season, he had a pick-six in Seattle in his first game and became an immediate starter. With the rival Steelers coming to M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday, the Ravens are hoping Ngakoue can make a similar splash.

Judon said the organization does a good job of bringing in players who fit into the system well and have the right mindset.

"The way we play football, it allows players to be themselves," Judon said. "Whatever your brand of football is, we just want it to be physical. If you're a pass rusher, just pass rush physical and execute at a high level."

Check out the images from the Ravens' Wednesday practice as they prepare to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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