Though offensive lineman Jah Reid and wide receiver Tandon Doss aren’t doing themselves any favors with their respective injuries, rookie linebacker Courtney Upshaw’s sprained shoulder has sidelined the top draft pick for over a week. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees said last week that he’s more interested to see Upshaw play in preseason games than in practices, but you don’t like seeing the rookie miss so many reps when the Ravens are counting on him to start and contribute right away.
Listed at 272 pounds on the team’s official roster, Upshaw revealed over the weekend that he weighs roughly 275 pounds and hopes to get down to 270 by the start of the season. While I wouldn’t classify the Alabama product as overweight, he is definitely thick and the Ravens would like to see him trimmer in order to drop back into coverage as an outside linebacker. Upshaw has looked most comfortable with his hand in the dirt and is still adjusting to being in a standup position.
Upshaw is still listed as the starter at the rush linebacker spot on the official depth chart, but Albert McClellan and Sergio Kindle have received plenty of reps in his place this summer. The 35th overall pick in April’s draft has more upside than the other two, but he is too raw to continue to miss practice time and there not be an adverse effect to the start of his rookie season.
If the rookie is sidelined much longer, you have to wonder if the undersized but overachieving McClellan or Kindle could become a stronger factor in the competition for a starting job opposite Paul Kruger.
With Dannell Ellerbe, do you sense his time here is short with players like Carr, McClellan, and Chavis Williams in the wings? — Aaron in Baltimore
I do believe Ellerbe’s time with the Ravens is short, but it has little to do with the three players you mentioned. The former Georgia linebacker showed much promise as an undrafted free agent in 2009 and eventually became a starter by the end of the season, but Ellerbe has shown little growth as a player ever since.
Ellerbe entered Harbaugh’s doghouse by reporting to training camp overweight in 2010 and lost his starting job to McClain that summer. Injuries have limited Ellerbe to just 20 games over the last two seasons, and he is no longer a threat to McClain for a starting spot.
The Ravens offered the second-round tender ($1.92 million) to Ellerbe when he was a restricted free agent this offseason, but that was before they were able to sign McClain to a long-term contract to keep him in Baltimore. With 20-20 hindsight, they likely would have offered Ellerbe the low tender or even allowed him to test the open market without as much concern at the position.
Barring an unforeseen injury to McClain or Ray Lewis, I’m guessing Ellerbe moves on from Baltimore following the season as he’ll become an unrestricted free agent. He’s not a bad player by any means, but Ellerbe strikes me as someone who hasn’t gotten any better after turning so many heads during his rookie season.