OWINGS MILLS – Terrence Cody engulfed overwhelmed New York Jets rookie center Colin Baxter with a powerful charge, bull-rushing the hapless blocker into the backfield.
The Baltimore Ravens’ beefy nose guard absolutely bullied Baxter, briefly forcing him to the bench to regain his composure.
Following the Ravens’ 34-17 victory, an ultra-confident Cody couldn’t help but point out the obvious dominance.
“He wasn’t ready for this,” Cody bluntly said in the locker room after recording a season-high three tackles, one for a loss. “We knew he was the weak link on the line. We tried to attack him.”
As the new anchor of the Ravens’ defense, Cody has been on the attack all season as the replacement for gritty veteran Kelly Gregg.
So far, Cody hasn’t looked out of place at all.
Although the former consensus All-American from Alabama has only recorded five tackles, his 6-foot-4, 349-pound frame has made a difference for the Ravens’ defense.
The Ravens rank third against the run, surrendering only 72.5 rushing yards per contest.
Operating next to All-Pro defensive tackle Haloti Ngata in the interior of the Ravens’ defense, Cody has bulldozed centers and commanded double-team attention at times to keep blockers away from star middle linebacker Ray Lewis.
“Is he becoming dominant in there?” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said of Cody. “He dominates in there quite a bit. He is big, he is athletic, he is moving so well. He stays square, he doesn’t get cut off. He doesn’t get reached and he makes plays. I know you put him in there with Haloti, and I think our linebackers appreciate having those two guys in the middle.”
A two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Lewis, 36, has benefited from Cody doing the dirty work in the trenches and has recorded 30 tackles, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and an interception.
Cody got off to a slow start to his NFL career as a rookie last year after being drafted in the second round, undergoing arthroscopic surgery to repair his lateral meniscus.
Sharing time with Gregg, he finished the season with 13 tackles. By the playoffs, though, Cody was moving better and forced a fumble with a bear hug tackle on Kansas City Chiefs Pro Bowl running back Jamaal Charles.
During the offseason, Cody shed 15 to 20 pounds by working out with a personal trainer twice per day in Orlando, Fla.
And his teammates have noticed the difference in Cody’s game.
“Last year, Terrence was the epitome of a rookie,” linebacker Jarret Johnson said. “He talked about Alabama all the time. He was a rookie, you know? This year, man, he has worked so hard; he looks great. I think he’s playing at a weight that’s perfect for what he does. He’s moving around, he understands the scheme of how to play run defense.
“Everybody thinks you just take a big strong guy and stick him at nose tackle and he’s going to be good. That’s just not true. You’ve got to know how to play leverage. You’ve got to see the backfield and how to lean which way to anticipate the block. He’s learning all that stuff, and he is light years better than he was last year.”
When Gregg was cut by the Ravens and signed with the Kansas City Chiefs, the popular veteran predicted that Cody would find immediate success.
“Terrence is a hell of a player,” Gregg told 24×7. “I think he’s going to do fine. He got off to a rough start last year, but the sky’s the limit for him. He puts the time in. He’s built for that position. He can be a leader.”
Cody was well aware that he had a tough job to live up to Gregg’s high level of play.
Although he’s not nearly as active in pursuit as he lacks Gregg’s underrated mobility, Cody is an old-school nose guard: an immovable object with surprisingly nimble feet to get into gaps and disrupt blocking schemes.
“You know, that’s the standard here,” Johnson said. “Kelly Gregg was as good at taking on blockers as there is in football. I’d say Cody is doing as good a job filling in where Kelly left off.”