The Baltimore Ravens already had questions regarding their pass rush before the NFL’s reining Defensive Player of the Year, Terrell Suggs, tore his Achilles’ tendon during offseason workouts in Arizona.
While the Ravens drafted Courtney Upshaw with their first pick in the second round of the NFL Draft, it was an uncertainty who was going to start opposite of Suggs. Fourth-year veteran Paul Kruger was a solid pass rusher last season, recording a career-high 5.5 sacks, but he’s yet to prove himself as a three-down linebacker.
Also, Sergio Kindle and Pernell McPhee still have a lot to prove and will have to step up.
Kindle, 24, the team’s top pick in the 2010 draft, missed his entire rookie season after suffering a serious head injury. Last year, Kindle appeared in just two games, playing primarily on special teams as he failed to record a single tackle.
Meanwhile, McPhee, who is set to enter his second season with the Ravens, was a bit of a surprise as a fifth round pick out of Mississippi State. In his rookie campaign, McPhee’s six sacks were good for second on the team behind Suggs’ team-leading 14. While McPhee primarily played on pass rushing situations, he will likely be asked to take on an even bigger role this season as an every-down player.
Regardless, Suggs was the most valuable piece to the Ravens’ front seven. He was a dynamic pass rusher whom defenses had to account for with double and sometimes even triple teams.
Pass-rush help like Andre Carter is available on the free-agent market, but the Ravens will have to lean on their young guns to make up for the void left by Suggs.
The Ravens’ road to the Super Bowl just got a lot more difficult.