OWINGS MILLS — Terrence Cody charged off the line of scrimmage, penetrating the backfield with a powerful bull rush and an unusually quick first step for a lineman his size.
The Baltimore Ravens’ beefy nose guard is still massive at a listed 6-foot-4, 349 pounds, but the former second-round draft pick from Alabama has made a few improvements.
Although "Mount Cody" remains a hefty presence inside, he has restructured his bulk and lost a considerable amount of body fat since his rookie campaign two years ago. He’s noticeably leaner now.
"I feel good," Cody said. "I feel good, look good."
Cody still has the requisite girth to thrive inside, but is working to upgrade his stamina through his participation in the Ravens’ offseason conditioning program supervised by strength coach Bob Rogucki.
Typically last season, Cody would begin games with a lot of energy and would control the center and make plays.
By the second half of games, though, he seemed to wear down and wasn’t nearly as active.
Tipping the scales at nearly 400 pounds a few years ago, Cody may have lost too much weight during the NFL lockout.
"I feel like I am getting a lot stronger," Cody said. "Losing that weight last year kind of made me a little weak because I lost it a little too fast, but working out with Bob and those little ‘Superman’ workouts and stuff, I am feeling good.”
Cody started every game at nose guard last year after the Ravens cut veteran defensive lineman Kelly Gregg.
He anchored the interior line, occupying blockers and keeping middle linebacker Ray Lewis free to roam to the football.
Cody finished his first season as a starter with a career-high 34 tackles and one pass deflection for the NFL’s second-ranked run defense.
Baltimore allowed only 92.6 yards against the run per contest and had the top-ranked red zone defense.
With new defensive coordinator in Dean Pees replacing Chuck Pagano, Cody doesn’t expect the Ravens’ aggressive defensive approach to change much.
“Dean has many personalities," Cody said. "I’d have to say just play wild, just be you and just go out there and whoop somebody’s behind.”
With Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs sidelined with a partially torn Achilles tendon, Cody is aware that the defense will need other players to contribute more.
Recuperating from surgery, Suggs wasn’t at the Ravens’ organized team activity last week. And Lewis didn’t attend the voluntary workouts.
"It’s different not having ‘Sizzle’ out there and Ray Lewis, because ‘Sizzle,’ especially, kept us laughing and kept us loose," Cody said. "Right now, we are trying to keep that going. It’s working. We are out there trying to keep the defense loose, so everybody can have fun and fly around.”
The Ravens drafted Alabama outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw in the second round.
Upshaw’s an integral part of the Ravens’ efforts to make up for Suggs being out for at least a significant portion of the season.
"I can tell he can play," Cody said. "Do you know why? Because he is from ‘Bama, the national champions. He’s a guy we are going to need because we might not have ‘Sizzle’ coming into the season. So, we are going to need him to step up."
As a rookie, the Fort Myers, Fla., native had only 13 tackles after failing the conditioning test on the first day of training camp and missing the first three games of the season after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus.
"I was out of shape and overweight," Cody said. "That’s what kind of slowed me down."
Toward his goal of continuing to get better, Cody said he’s concentrating on his technique.
Conditioning and diet are paramount for Cody.
"Just taking care of my body," Cody said. "Most of all, it’s just eating right and just staying in shape."