OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens know they have large shoes to fill after the departure of five-time Pro Bowl selection Haloti Ngata, but at least one member of the defensive line won’t be caught reflecting on the past.
After proving himself as an above-average nose tackle in his first year as a starter, 2013 third-round pick Brandon Williams expects no drop-off for the NFL’s fourth-ranked run defense despite Ngata being traded to the Detroit Lions last month.
“It was surprising, but at the same time, you get the opportunity to step up and show what you’re actually capable of,” William said. “I love Haloti, great guy, wish him the best in Detroit, but we’re in Baltimore right now. The show must go on. Someone else has to step up.”
That someone is expected to be 2014 second-round pick Timmy Jernigan, who filled in for Ngata during his four-game suspension for Adderall use in the final month of the regular season. Though not as massive as the 340-pound Ngata, the 6-foot-2, 300-pound Florida State product collected 23 tackles and four sacks in 12 games as a rookie.
Jernigan has been complimented by teammates for having an impressive motor, which will be necessary as he takes on a larger role in his second season.
“He’s definitely ready. I call him the little pit bull, because he never stops,” Williams said. “He might be smaller than Haloti — not a lot of people are as big as Haloti — but he still gives it his all, 100 percent every single time. He never quits, so he’s definitely ready.”
Many have pointed to the performance of the defensive line in Ngata’s absence as a major reason why the organization took a firm stance in contract negotiations this offseason. In the four games Ngata missed, the Ravens allowed just under 3.6 yards per carry, which was right in line with the 3.6 yards per attempt allowed for the entire season.
While the offense struggled to find consistency in the final month of the season, the defense continued to excel without Ngata to help the Ravens qualify for the postseason with a 3-1 finish.
“It kind of got us ready for this point right here,” Williams said. “Haloti’s not here, so [Jernigan is] going to have to step it up. Someone’s going to have to step up — whoever it is. And we still had a great defensive line when Haloti had his stint away [on suspension]. It will be fine.”
Mosley on mend
Ravens inside linebacker C.J. Mosley continues to wear a protective cast over his surgically-repaired left wrist, which will likely lead to him being limited in organized team activities set to begin next month.
“I’m going to do everything I can. I don’t know how much physical stuff I can do,” Mosley said. “But I’m going to be out on the field definitely.”
Mosley has visions of building on a successful rookie year in which he was the only player in the NFL to collect at least 125 tackles, three sacks, and two interceptions. He finished second behind St. Louis Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald for Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Becoming the first rookie to make the Pro Bowl in franchise history, Mosley is currently limited in his ability to lift weights, but the 17th overall pick of last year’s draft is upbeat about his progress after he initially injured the wrist in December.
“Everything is progressing,” Mosley said. “I haven’t had any major setbacks so far, so I’m just getting back into it with the workouts and everything.”
Marlon Brown excited to work with Trestman
Wide receiver Marlon Brown isn’t paying much attention to the speculation of the Ravens needing to draft another receiver, but he cracked a big smile when asked about his early impressions of new offensive coordinator Marc Trestman.
The 6-foot-5 Brown took notice of how Trestman used bigger wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery in Chicago and expects big things from himself in his third season.
“He’s so excited and so detailed about the offense,” said Brown about Trestman. “I like that he’s breaking it down, so the whole team can understand the aspects of the offense and everything. I’m loving him.”
It’s no secret that Brown struggled to find his way in his second year after the offseason signing of veteran Steve Smith and the implementation of Gary Kubiak’s offensive system, but the tall wideout eventually became a solid option on third down, finishing with 24 catches for 255 yards.
Depending on whether the Ravens add a wideout in this year’s draft, Brown could find himself with many more opportunities as he competes with the likes of Kamar Aiken and Michael Campanaro. The continuity that Trestman wants to maintain will certainly help as the Ravens try to replace the production of Torrey Smith and tight end Owen Daniels, who both departed via free agency.
“There’s been a couple changes with alignment issues and verbiage maybe,” Brown said. “Other than that, everything is pretty much the same.”
Attendance strong for first week of offseason program
The Ravens officially began their voluntary offseason conditioning program this week with attendance estimated to be in the high 50s, according to head strength and conditioning coach Bob Rogucki.
Sixty-three players are currently listed under contract on the Ravens’ official website, but that doesn’t include restricted free agents and exclusive-rights free agents who have yet to sign their tenders. Since the program is voluntary, the organization is cognizant of new training methods being introduced every year and tries to implement them to make it more attractive for as many players as possible to train at the Owing Mills facility.
“We try to bring something in every year just to add a change to what we do,” Rogucki said. “Our method and philosophy stays the same. If we don’t bring something new in, there’s going to be something out there that we’re not aware of. Players may find it and see it, so we try to keep up on the trend that’s out there. That’s just good business on our part.”