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Training Camp Competition: Inside Linebackers

ILB Trenton Simpson
ILB Trenton Simpson

In the Hunt

  • Roquan Smith
  • Patrick Queen
  • Malik Harrison
  • Trenton Simpson (rookie)
  • Del'Shawn Phillips
  • Kristian Welch
  • Josh Ross

Projected Starters

Smith and Queen view themselves as the NFL's top inside linebacker combination. Smith was an All-Pro in 2022 and is looking forward to his first full year with Baltimore's defense. He will take over wearing the green dot communication helmet in 2023, relaying signals from Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald to his teammates. Queen is entering a contract year and coming off of his best season (117 tackles, 5.0 sacks, two interceptions). He is excellent in ball pursuit and rarely comes off the field as a three-down linebacker.

Best Battle

Third-round pick Trenton Simpson is a superb athlete who will compete for defensive snaps with Malik Harrison, a fourth-year player who led Baltimore in special teams snaps last season. Harrison is a physical tackler who's also a solid run defender, while Simpson was a versatile weapon at Clemson who made plays from a standup position or lining up with his hand in the dirt. Simpson can also be deployed as an edge rusher. Both would welcome snaps on defense, in addition to their duties on special teams.

Under the Radar

Ross made the 53-man roster as an undrafted rookie last season, but he'll face another battle to make the team. Phillips and Welch are both special teams leaders and Simpson adds to an already deep inside linebacker group. Ross will need to make some splash plays during training camp or preseason to solidify his position.

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