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The Competition 2014: DTs/NTs


"The Competition" is a series that breaks down every position battle leading up to training camp.

Returning Players

Haloti Ngata (6-foot-4, 340 pounds, ninth season)

There is no question that Ngata is still the leader in the middle of the defensive front. He has made five straight Pro Bowls and is one of the NFL's most disruptive defensive players when healthy. The Ravens expect Ngata to play a critical role for the defense, and he has hopes of racking up double-digit sacks for the first time in his career. Ngata can move around the line, which gives the Ravens some flexibility up front. 

Brandon Williams (6-1, 335, second season)

Williams spent most of his rookie year watching and learning, as he saw action in six games. Now the 2013 third-round pick could see a significant increase in his playing time, as the Ravens had him work with the first-team defense throughout offseason practices. Williams is built to play nose tackle, and the Ravens could line him up over the center with Ngata at his side.

Terrence Cody (6-4, 340, fifth season) !

The Ravens re-signed Cody to a one-year contract this offseason after he briefly tested the free-agent market. He*was held out of offseason practices as he recovered from hip surgery, and he will have to show in training camp that he's fully recovered from the injury to make the team. Cody has started for the Ravens in previous years, but the hip injury has recently held him back *from being the dominant run stuffer the Ravens want him to be.


Timmy Jernigan (6-2, 300)

The Florida State product slipped to the Ravens in the second round, but he has talent to make an immediate impact on the defense. Jernigan was impressive during offseason practices, and he's a quick lineman who can beat offensive lineman off the ball to disrupt plays in the backfield. Jernigan is a much different player than big-bodied linemen like Ngata, Williams or Cody, and he could provide a change of pace for the defensive line rotation. 

Derrick Hopkins (6-0, 314)

Hopkins joined the Ravens as a highly sought-after undrafted free agent. He reportedly received the highest signing bonus of any undrafted rookie on the roster.

Levi Brown (6-2, 310)

Brown signed with the Ravens as an undrafted free agent out of Temple, and he has an uphill climb to carve out a role on the roster. He has a reputation as a run stuffer and is working to develop further as a pass rusher.

Jamie Meder (6-2, 30)

Meder is looking to make the jump to the NFL from the small school college level, where he dominated at Ashland University in Ohio. He was a two-time Defensive Lineman of the Year for the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, but now he'll have to prove he can hold his own against players like Marshal Yanda.

A.J. Pataiali'i (6-3, 319)

The Utah State product had offers from multiple teams as an undrafted free agent, but he ultimately decided to sign with the Ravens. He's an athletic lineman, and he's big enough to eat up blocks in the middle of the defense. Like the rest of the undrafted linemen, Pataiali'i will have to impress the coaching staff to play his way onto the roster.


Ngata is the certainty among this group, as long as he's healthy. He has dealt with injuries the past couple of years, but he put a renewed emphasis on his offseason training and said he feels better than previous years. Ngata is one of the most talented and highest paid players on the team, and the team expects another Pro Bowl season from him.

The Ravens also want to keep Ngata fresh down the stretch, which makes it critical to have a rotation up front.  Williams will help spell Ngata, and he could also end up as the starting nose tackle. Cody will give Williams the most competition for a starting job, and the Ravens could go with the veteran defender if they don't think Williams is ready for the job. A key for Cody to make the team and find a role in the lineup is* *to be fully healthy for training camp, and to avoid any lingering issues from the hip surgery.

Jernigan is also a key player to watch. If he proves to be too good to keep off the field, the Ravens could end up shuffling the unit somewhat by* *placing Ngata over the center and then having Jernigan line up next to him. The Ravens expect him to get some playing time this year, but the extent depends on how he develops over the next few months.

Roster spots will be tight after Ngata, Williams, Jernigan and potentially Cody, but the undrafted rookies always have to be ready for an injury. The Ravens also tend to keep at least one defensive lineman on the practice squad, which could be the destination for one of the undrafted free agents.

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