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Roquan Smith on Attitude of Defense: 'We're Still the Ravens'

ILB Roquan Smith
ILB Roquan Smith

Roquan Smith is in the business of making tackles, not excuses.

The All-Pro inside linebacker is setting a high bar for how he expects the Ravens' defense to play in 2024. It will be Zach Orr's first season as defensive coordinator and the first time Smith has played in Baltimore without his former running mate at inside linebacker, Patrick Queen, who signed with the Steelers in free agency.

Smith is eager to get started, already participating in the offseason conditioning program and continuing to embrace his role as a team leader on defense. He expects the Ravens, who led the league in sacks, takeaways and fewest points allowed in 2023, to be ferocious again on defense. That's what Smith always expects.

"I have the utmost respect for 'Z.O.' [Orr] and the way he runs things," Smith said. "He's a fiery guy, very intense, really matches my personality, but I think it matches the defensive personality as well as the organization, as being a Raven. I think what he embodies is exactly what you want in a coordinator.

"I'm very thankful for (former Defensive Coordinator) Mike (Macdonald) and everything that he had done here. But, the players, life goes on. [I] wish all those guys the best who are going on with their career. But, don't anything change here. We're still the Ravens, and we're still going to get the job done and finish it by any means necessary. That's our mindset."

Smith joked about how he's handling Queen's departure.

"I've got to tear his picture down in the linebacker room – you know, we have linebackers all over the walls. So, I need to maybe make a video of me punching it or something like that.

"I'm happy for him. I'm wishing him all the best, and it'll be good to see him twice a year. He's still my guy, but war is war. That's what it is."

Tyler Linderbaum Will Lead New-Look Offensive Line in His Own Way

Tyler Linderbaum made the Pro Bowl in just his second season in the NFL and will play an important in role galvanizing Baltimore's offensive line.

Baltimore's talented center will have a new starting guard on each side after the departures of John Simpson (Jets) and Kevin Zeitler (Lions).

Meanwhile, right tackle Morgan Moses was traded to the Jets, meaning Baltimore will have three new starters up front next season.

Linderbaum isn't fazed by the changes, feeling he'll lead the unit with the same approach he's always taken.

"I think we have a good group of guys, a good coaching staff to be able to help the younger guys and whoever else we add that's going to step in and play," Linderbaum said. "It's definitely different, but that's a part of the business. Other guys get different opportunities elsewhere, and it's just a next guy in mentality.

"I'm going to be the same, it just comes with the position. You're going to have to be vocal, you're going to have to communicate with guys, so in terms of that, things haven't changed. Just be the guy that teammates can look towards, and they can have trust in me to get the job done."

The Ravens could draft two or three offensive linemen next week, including their first-round pick. Linderbaum won't mine taking any of those players under his wing.

"Once football school starts up, OTAs, building that chemistry, and all of the other things will take care of itself," Linderbaum said. "As the O-line, we don't need to really worry about much, we just have to block the guy in front of us and work together. That's kind of what we're focused on."

Scott Elliott Is Pleased With Players' Conditioning

Strength and Conditioning Coordinator Scott Elliott said the Ravens' voluntary conditioning program, which began Monday, is off to a terrific start.

"It's been a great turnout. We've had a lot of fun with it," Elliott said. "The guys are working their tails off, and I can't wait to keep going.

"It all comes back to really what you hear (Head) Coach [John] Harbaugh say throughout the year: We want to be the strongest team in the NFL, and yes, in Week 1, but in December and then even beyond. December football means the most, but that's what carries us into the playoffs."

Elliott said having so many players report in excellent shape has allowed the program to get a jumpstart.

"The guys have come in in phenomenal shape, so that allows us to kind of start one step ahead of maybe where you'd have to start elsewhere – start more basic," Elliott said. "It allows us to kind of progress more efficiently, leading into Phase 2 and then to Phase 3, when there are OTAs and then minicamp."

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