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The Competition: Outside Linebackers


PLEASE NOTE:The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed on represent those of individual authors, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions or policies of the Baltimore Ravens' organization, front office staff, coaches and executives. Authors' views are formulated independently from any inside knowledge and/or conversations with Ravens officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.

Looking at the top of the Ravens' outside linebacking position, you have a stark contrast of images.

On one end stands the fun-loving, chatterboxing, Darth-Vader-gesturing Terrell Suggs.  On the other, it's the lunchpail-toting everyman in Jarret Johnson.

But no matter how different the personalities of "T-Sizz" and "Double J" are, the Ravens are certainly happy to have them both on their side.

Behind that duo, however, stands a stable of youthful talent, all jockeying for a chance to be the next great Ravens outside linebacker and follow in Suggs and Johnson's shoes, no matter how different they might be. breaks down how the meeting room looks at this point:
Terrell Suggs, 8th seasonWhat He's Done:Last season, after signing a blockbuster 6-year contract, Suggs totaled 58 tackles and 4 ½ sacks, the lowest amount since his rookie season. He did miss three games with a knee injury and reported to training camp out of shape, both factors that led to his pedestrian numbers.What He's Going For:Suggs is looking to regain his Pro Bowl production on the field and svelte form off it. He has said that 2009 would never happen again and that he wants to be dominant once again. What He Needs To Do: First, Suggs must come into training camp at his desired playing weight and conditioning. Staying healthy is also a top priority, as he essentially missed all of his 2009 camp with a heel injury. He also needs to shoulder more of a burden in the pass rush, which has been a focus all offseason.

Jarret Johnson, 8th seasonWhat He's Done:The stalwart Alabama product started all 16 games despite a painful shoulder injury and finished with a career-high six sacks, two interceptions and 70 tackles. Many analysts thought he was the Ravens' defensive Most Valuable Player in 2009.What He's Going For:Johnson has a firm grasp on his starting spot, but he is looking to break through the Pro Bowl ceiling for the first time ever. What He Needs To Do:After easing himself back into offseason minicamps, Johnson just needs to show his shoulder is healed and then play up to his typical standard as a tough, do-it-all defender.

Antwan Barnes, 4th seasonWhat He's Done: Barnes saw action in 11 games and finished with a career-best three sacks. He added one interception and seven special teams stops. What He's Going For: Barnes is seeking to keep his hold on a spot as a pass-rush specialist and perhaps move up into the rotation on first and second down. What He Needs To Do:The former fourth-round draft pick has said he is feeling more comfortable after three years in the Ravens' system, so he is "not thinking as much." Barnes must continue to work on his drops in coverage, which will help show that he can be trusted on early downs.  But his pass rush – a specialty of Barnes' – has improved with added quickness this offseason.

Prescott Burgess, 4th seasonWhat He's Done:Burgess was a special teams warrior, netting a team-high 34 special teams stops. This was after a brief three-week stint with the New England Patriots at the beginning of the year.
What He's Going For:A former sixth-round draftee, Burgess is looking to retain the mantle of Baltimore's top special teamer while working his way onto the field on defense.
What He Needs To Do:Burgess must keep his intensity burning on special teams, and that can mean a roster spot in its own right.  For Burgess more time on defense, however, he'll have to outplay Edgar Jones and Barnes. * * * Edgar Jones, 4th seasonWhat He's Done: *Listed as a tight end in 2009, Jones played in all 16 contests and came home with 19 special teams stops, fourth-best on the team. He did haul in one catch for 8 yards after flopping positions from outside linebacker. *What He's Going For: *Jones is hoping to stick around as a special teams contributor and add depth at outside linebacker, since the Ravens drafted two tight ends this year.
*What He Needs To Do: *Like Burgess, it's another case of having to stand out on special teams and capitalize on his defensive opportunities in the preseason. Obviously, the Ravens like Jones because they've continually carved out a roster spot, regardless of his position. He must continue to keep that team-first attitude. *Sergio Kindle, RookieWhat He's Done: *The Ravens' top draft pick was an All-American first-team selection by The Sporting News as a defensive end and a third-team honoree as a linebacker from the Associated Press.  He totaled 58 tackles, 10 quarterback pressures and six sacks despite seeing a large amount of double teams.
*What He's Going For: *A starting spot might be some ways off (he is currently backing up Johnson), but Kindle is looking for any time with the defense he can get.  In addition, Kindle can continue his history of making plays on special teams.For a team that wants to bolster its pass rush, Kindle's assertation that he "just gets the quarterback" is an appropriate selling point.
*What He Needs To Do: *Kindle has to keep his head in the Ravens' playbook to stay up to speed with his more-tenured teammates.  Blessed with size, quickness and strength, Kindle will really be able to show what he can do for the first time when the pads come on. *Albert McClellan, RookieWhat He's Done: *The Marshall product earned second-team All-Conference USA as a senior after notching 54 tackles, three sacks and two forced fumbles. *What He's Going For: *As an undrafted rookie among a stacked position, the 6-foot-2, 254-pound McClellan is hoping to make the tough transition from collegiate defensive end to hybrid player. He could stick around on the practice squad. *What He Needs To Do: *McClellan needs to cash in on the advantage he'll have over backup offensive tackles in the preseason and get to the quarterback. Players in his position must also show he is a willing special teamer.

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