Ravens’ Pryce hitting stride

Street Talk Ravens’ Pryce hitting stride

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OWINGS MILLS — It’s an intimidating, unusual sight for any quarterback glancing nervously to his right at the line of scrimmage, not to mention the offensive tackle tasked with protecting him.


The fearful view reveals one of the bigger defensive ends in the league: Baltimore Ravens veteran Trevor Pryce.


Under new defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, the Ravens have been deploying Pryce as more of a rush end after years of having him primarily line up inside as a defensive tackle on passing downs.


"I’m bigger than everybody else that does it," Pryce said. "I’m a lot heavier. I don’t think offensive tackles are used to 300-pound guys running that fast off the ball. And it gives you a big advantage if you have some weight in your butt."


In a 34-3 win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium, Pryce barreled into the backfield to sack quarterback Derek Anderson in the third quarter for a six-yard loss.


The 6-foot-5, 290-pound four-time Pro Bowl selection engulfed Anderson immediately after busting through a block from the outside.


Utilizing a blend of size, speed and savvy, Pryce has registered two sacks and one forced fumble this season. He now has 85 1/2 sacks for his career.


Not too many players are utilized on one down over a hefty offensive guard before lining up on the outside shoulder of an athletic offensive tackle on the ensuing snap.


"It’s rare," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "Trevor’s got a lot of versatility as a player. He can line up over an offensive guard. He can line up with a tackle. He can line up over a tight end and be equally effective in the run and the pass.


"Trevor’s done a great job against the run. We know Trevor can rush the passer and he had tremendous pressure in this game, especially off the edge. He’s a pretty well-rounded player, especially for a guy who’s been around for as long as he has."


Pryce entered the NFL in 1997 with the Denver Broncos. Thirteen seasons later, Pryce has racked up 13 forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and two interceptions.


After posting a career-high 13 sacks in 2006 during his first season in Baltimore, Pryce notched just 6 1/2 sacks over the next two seasons due to chest and wrist injuries.


He played in every game last season and recorded 4 1/2 sacks, occupying blockers as Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs wound up applying most of the heat to quarterbacks.


"I have very high standards," Pryce said. "What I try to do is not worry about stats and those types of things. When you start worrying about it, you start trying to do too much and you don’t get anywhere. Last year, I felt myself pushing and getting really upset when I didn’t get to the quarterback or when I would get there and he’d throw the ball in the dirt.


"Now, I know it’s just part of the flow of the game. A lot of things have to go bad for the other team. A lot of things have to go right for our team. That’s just professional football. A lot of luck is involved."


This week, the Ravens will need more than good fortune to rattle New England Patriots star quarterback Tom Brady.


Brady isn’t as mobile as he was in the past due to a knee injury that requires a bulky brace and kept him out last season, but he has an extremely quick release to go with his sound pocket presence and footwork over a limited area.


"You have to at least frustrate Tom Brady," Pryce said. "You’re not going to sack him because he’s going to get rid of the ball.


“You have to at least do your best to kind of get in his face, make some of his throws go off target. If you don’t do that, you don’t stand a chance."


While Pryce is one of the older defensive ends in the league at age 34, he doesn’t seem to be slowing down much at all.


If anything, he appears to have improved his technique and conditioning to a point where he doesn’t waste any energy.


In a nod to his age, defensive line coach Clarence Brooks keeps Pryce well-rested at practice, too.


"I don’t practice," Pryce said. "That’s how we do it.  ‘You go stand over there, old guy.’ Hey, no problem. You won’t hear any complaints from me."


 Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.
Photo by Sabina Moran.

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Aaron Wilson

About Aaron Wilson

Aaron Wilson covers the NFL for National Football Post as well as the Baltimore Ravens for The Carroll County Times and Ravens24x7.com. He has previously covered the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans and has covered the NFL since 1997.  He has won several regional writing awards, including, most recently, Best Sports News Story for the state of Maryland in voting conducted by the Associated Press managing editors. 

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