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Sophomore Slump? C.J. Mosley Responds


C.J. Mosley set a high bar for himself coming into the season.

The 2014 first-round pick became the first rookie in franchise history to make the Pro Bowl and quickly established himself as one of the Ravens' top overall defenders after just one year.

That impressive start to his career led to big expectations for Mosley's second season, but the inside linebacker didn't match his production on the stat sheet in Year 2.

"As far as stats, people can say that I had an off year or a sophomore slump," Mosley said. "But I feel that I maintained my expectations personally. Stats are going to come and go, that's not a big deal. But as long as you're helping your teammates with the calls, making the right plays, not making mistakes, that's really what it's all about."

The dip in Mosley's production was a talking point throughout the season, and he did not receive another invitation to the Pro Bowl. But by the time the season ended, his numbers weren't much different from a rookie campaign that earned him league-wide accolades:

2015 season: 16 starts, 117 tackles, 4 sacks, 0 interceptions, 1 forced fumble, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 touchdown, 7 passes defensed

2014 season: 16 starts, 133 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 interceptions, 1 forced fumble, 2 fumble recoveries, 0 touchdowns, 8 passes defensed

"People were probably more aware of him this year," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "He played very well. He has played a lot better the second half the season than the first half – as [did] our defense as a whole."

Mosley, 23, said he tried to tune out the noise in regards to the perception that he was having a down year. He pointed to the inspirational T-shirts Harbaugh handed out last year that details the "Four Fights Every Day," with one of them being "Us vs. Them."

"If you worry about that, it's going to mess up your game," Mosley said. "That's just one of those things that you can't control. People are going to think what they want to think, or say what they want to say. It's just whether you're doing your job as a teammate and playing winning football."

An area where Mosley clearly didn't drop off at all is his durability. He played 1,079 defensive snaps, more than any other player on the team.

He did that despite playing a physical position and having to wear a protective cast on his left arm stemming from offseason surgery. Mosley never suggested that he was hurt during the season despite getting that question multiple times.

"I had normal football bumps and bruises, but nothing that is going to require surgery or major treatment after the season," Mosley said. "I won't say I came out 100 percent, but I'm walking strong."

An area where the Ravens saw Mosley grow in his second season is how he conducts himself. The soft-spoken defender isn't one to command an entire room with a speech, but he did open up more in talking with teammates in one-on-one situations.

Even as a young player, Mosley has the respect of his peers in the locker room.

"It's just conversations here and there, things that he has asked other players to do, that far exceed his years in the league," Harbaugh said. "Even though he's a soft-spoken kind of guy, you might not expect that. He has shown a lot of leadership this year. [I have] nothing but high praise for C.J. that way."

As Mosley heads into the offseason, his first priority is to recover from the long year and then get back in the weight room. He'll be able to take part in a full offseason of weight training, unlike last year when he was recovering from the wrist surgery.

Mosley expects the offseason training to help him going into next year, and the Ravens fully anticipate him to be a cornerstone piece of the defense for years to come.

"C.J. has a great career in front of him," Harbaugh said.

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