Competition verifies passion, and passion leads to progress.
In football, like in life, you’re tested. There are people with similar qualifications that are competing with you for a spot on a staff, board, roster, etc.
As Logan Quick and I have been writing about over the last few weeks, the Ravens have multiple positions on their roster in which the starting spot is up for grabs. Defensive end is no different.
Besides Chris Canty, Baltimore has three young players from which to choose their starting defensive end.
Canty may end up starting due to his experience and length (6’7″), and although his first year in Baltimore was productive, he’s only averaging two tackles per game and one sack per every six games of his career.
Is he the Ravens’ best defensive end right now? Yes. Will the remainder of the preseason produce a better option from among the younger defensive ends? Quite possibly.
Brent Urban (6’6″, 298 pounds), like Canty, played defensive line at Virginia. He has 34 1/4″ arms, which is very good for a defensive lineman. It allows him to keep blockers at bay, survey the quarterback and get his hands into passing lanes. He has the ideal body type for a 3-4 defensive end. Urban has an injury history, though, and continues to learn the position.
DeAngelo Tyson is another player to consider, as he enters his third season in Baltimore. Tyson has played solid, under-the-radar football since he’s come to town and has shown versatility, lining up at both end and tackle in his first two seasons.
Growing up, Tyson had to deal with incredibly adverse circumstances, not the least of which was having an absent father and an abusive mother. As told to BaltimoreRavens.com’s Garrett Downing, Tyson was indifferent toward playing football. Despite his physical gifts, his heart wasn’t in it. Tyson stuck with it and went on to become a high school All-American, receive a scholarship to Georgia and win a Super Bowl in his rookie year with the Ravens.
Players that go through so much in their childhood are either broken or galvanized by their past. Tyson came out of everything all the better and has the opportunity to shine in 2014. Baltimore’s defensive forte has historically been stopping the run, which happens to be Tyson’s forte, too.
The other candidate to start at defensive end for the Ravens is Kapron Lewis-Moore. Despite tearing his right ACL in the 2013 BCS National Championship game, Lewis-Moore was drafted by the Ravens the following April. They both knew it was unlikely for him to play that season, but Baltimore saw something in him they liked.
Now healthy, Lewis-Moore is ready to continue playing aggressive, smart, physical football like he did in South Bend. At Notre Dame, Lewis-Moore was a team captain and led by example, playing all along the defensive line. He rarely got blown off the ball and rushed the passer from the inside and the outside.
If he stays healthy, Lewis-Moore could become what the Ravens were looking for when they drafted Dan Cody in 2005 (another collegiate standout that also missed his entire rookie season due to a torn ACL).
Today, Canty is clearly Baltimore’s starting defensive end, followed by Tyson, Lewis-Moore and Urban.
Thirteen weeks from today, when the regular season begins, I predict the gap to be much smaller.