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Rookie Trenton Simpson Shines in Defensive 'Debut'

Simpson opt 3

Before rookie linebacker Trenton Simpson spoke with reporters following Saturday's regular season finale, he politely asked if he could have a minute to comb his hair. 

Simpson wanted to look good for his first big interview after he looked good in the first real defensive action of his career. 

Simpson notched his first career sack, had two tackles for loss, and seven tackles overall in the Ravens' 17-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium. 

"I'm just so blessed with the opportunity to go out there and be able to showcase my talents today – just staying patient and trusting the process," Simpson said. "To go out there today and make a couple plays for the team, I feel like I'm headed in the right direction, for sure."

In a game that had way more importance to the Steelers than the Ravens, Baltimore didn't play Pro Bowl inside linebacker Roquan Smith (among others). Malik Harrison (groin) was out and Patrick Queen's snaps were limited, also for protection.

That opened the door for Simpson and the third-round pick out of Clemson took advantage.

"He played really well. He flew around, made tackles [and] played a very good football game," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "[I'm] very excited for the way he played."

Simpson had just 20 defensive snaps this season entering the game. With two Pro Bowlers ahead of him, most of his action has been on special teams. He played 26 defensive snaps against the Steelers Saturday night.

But Simpson has been learning all year – and he couldn't ask for two better role models.

Queen said Simpson was relentless with asking questions this week in preparation for the game, trying to get tendencies on the Steelers and more. During the game, Smith was on the sideline giving him tips and tendencies on the Steelers.

"Proud of him. Couldn't be happier for him," Queen said. "Great dude. He had me nervous; we were going over all the calls and stuff, and he was just asking [a lot of] questions trying to figure out everything. But that's why you're seeing the way he's played. He's just on top of all his stuff."

The preparation paid off, allowing Simpson to show his supreme athleticism. He looked as if he was fired out of a cannon shooting a gap on a blitz to sack Mason Rudolph. Queen said Simpson looked even faster than him.

Simpson also made a strong open-field tackle on bruising Steelers running back Najee Harris and a tackle for loss on Jaylen Warren on third down when Pittsburgh was on the 2-yard line with a chance to put the game away.

With Smith and Queen leading the way into the playoffs, Simpson will go back to his special teams role for now. But Saturday's performance was a promising showing for Simpson's future.

"I feel like that's why they drafted me here – just the way I play," Simpson said. "So, just keep continuing to get better every day, improve, trust my coaches and just listen to Roquan and 'PQ' and [everyone in] the linebacker room. I feel like things are continuing to grow for my career."

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