If you have been paying attention to the Ravens offseason activities and minicamps, you are familiar with how many pundits are preaching about the team’s speed on defense.
The players on said defense are certainly starting to take notice as well.
Veteran nose tackle Haloti Ngata is one of many that is thoroughly impressed with the influx of young talent the Ravens now have on the defensive side of the football.
“When I turn around and see these guys friggin’ sprinting to the ball, it’s just amazing,” Ngata stated when he took to the podium folling Thursday’s practice.
“It’s just like I said – especially to see these rookies and younger guys just going full-go – it’s just fun to watch, and you just get excited about it.”
While the Ravens defensive front is filled with some raw and inexperienced talent outside of Ngata and fellow veteran Chris Canty, the unit, if firing on all cylinders, could be the best the Ravens have had in quite some time.
With a defensive line consisting of Timmy Jernigan (6-2, 300 pounds), Brent Urban (6-7, 295 pounds), Kapron Lewis-Moore (6-4, 310 pounds), Ngata (6-4, 340 pounds), DeAngelo Tyson (6-2, 315 pounds), Brandon Willams (6-1, 335 pounds) and Canty (6-7, 317 pounds), the group could all wreak havoc on opposing offensive lines.
“It definitely is different,” Ngata stated when asked about the influx of youth along the line. “You’ve got younger guys like T.J. [Timmy Jernigan who] is doing great, and he’s doing a lot of good things – explosive.
“And a lot of our younger guys … Brent [Urban], it’s just picking those guys up and bringing them along. It’s just going to take some time, but once you get some time together, they’re going to get better and better.”
Ngata is happy to once again be healthy, and from the looks of him, has taken this offseason seriously and reported to training camp in great shape.
“I feel great. This is the best I’ve felt in the offseason. My knees feel great, shoulders – it’s just the best I’ve felt in the offseason, and I’ve been able to train a full offseason, so it’s great. This is the best I’ve felt in the offseason, because previous years I’ve had some type of injury or lingering injuries, so it’s just the best I’ve felt in the offseason.”
Despite missing one game last season with a knee injury (vs. Chicago), Ngata earned his fifth consecutive Pro Bowl honor while leading the Ravens defensive front with 52 tackles (23 solo), 1.5 sacks (-12 yards) and three passes defensed. Haloti is comfortable no matter where he plays along the defensice front.
“They’re moving me around,” he explained. “I’m at nose, you have Brandon Williams playing a lot of the nose, and I’m playing three nose, and whatever [else]. I’m more comfortable with it now than I was last year. It’s great.”
2014 is crucial for Ngata and the Ravens. The team will need to get every ounce of production out of the veteran, who is set to earn a base salary of $8.5 million this season.
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