Baltimore Ravens: Defense Begins New Identity during OTAs


Baltimore Ravens defensive end Chris Canty (99) will give the defensive line the veteran presence now that defensive tackle Haloti Ngata was traded in March. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Ravens begin organized team activities or OTAs May 26 as part of the final phase of the offseason. The OTAs run May 26-28 and June 1-3, 8-11.

OTAs are a part of the voluntary conditioning the players go through during the offseason. At this point, the veterans and rookies will work at full speed together. According to staff writer Garrett Downing, despite the voluntary nature, key players and veterans have a history of good participation.

Contact is not allowed, but the players can participate in 11-on-11 drills, along with 7-on-7 and 9-on-9. This new aspect is important as the team begins to familiarize itself with new leadership on offense and a new look on defense.

At OTAs last season, the offense had to familiarize themselves with Gary Kubiak’s new west coast offense. This year, Joe Flacco has to familiarize himself with former Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman approach to the offense.

The defense has a much greater challenge to overcome this offseason. They have to try to continue being dominant without Haloti Ngata after the Ravens traded him in March. Contract talks failed in an attempt to grant him an extension, which his suspension earlier in the season probably had some influence.

Nonetheless, the defense has to move on without him. They played four games without him in 2014 due to the suspension, so they’ve had a glimpse at what the future now holds. However, a full season is much different from four games.

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The Ravens have drafted multiple defensive tackles in recent years, such as Brandon Williams and Timmy Jernigan, who have shown to be very good players. However, with Ngata gone, the two young players will be challenged to step up and preserve the defense’s dominance against the ground game. The defense held teams to less than four yards per carry last season, which was third best in the NFL.

Nine years of experiences disappears with Ngata, so Chris Canty will provide the veteran presence on the defensive line with his 11 years in the league. While no contact will be permissible during OTAs, the defense can use the time to become familiar with each other. Different players are going to have to step up to find out what works and what doesn’t.

Ngata did not accumulate many tackles, but he made his presence known, which forced running backs and quarterbacks into mistakes. No one can replace him, so the Ravens have to find a new way to create the same presence on the defensive line.

No one can replace Haloti Ngata, so the Ravens have to find a new way to create the same presence on the defensive line

Whether that is Williams, Jernigan or even the third-round pick Carl Davis, who is 6 foot 5 inches and 320lbs, the players are going to have to either bring a new form to Ngata’s presence or make their own. With the pass defense in question after last season, the team needs to maintain the consistency against the run. If not, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals will be hard to stop with their air and ground attack.

The Ravens will find out how much of the consistency against the run can be attributed to Ngata this season. Or, the players can show the defense shapes players to stop the run game.

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