Wake-up caw: 'Rock' of the Ravens' defense

October, 11, 2013
10/11/13
8:00
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The Ravens have plenty of Pro Bowl players on their defense along with the likes of cornerback Lardarius Webb and leading tackler Daryl Smith.

So, who's the rock of the defense? Apparently Courtney Upshaw.

As The Baltimore Sun pointed out, defensive coordinator Dean Pees wanted to make sure reporters and fans knew about the dirty work being done by Upshaw, steering a question about Terrell Suggs into an answer about the most unheralded member on defense.

"He’s smart," Pees said. "You can put him anywhere and you can play him anywhere. [It may not be] the best thing for him physically to play at a position, but you can move him all over the place. Sometimes you can’t do that with guys. Double-J, Jarret Johnson, was that way. You could just do some things with him because he is such an intelligent football player.”

Upshaw doesn't fill up the stat sheet. He is 12th on the team with 10 tackles and has one sack this season. But teammates know his value.

“He’s our rock,” linebacker Elvis Dumervil said of Upshaw. “He’s the guy who anchors as far as setting the edge, and he’s a guy who can go inside and sub, and be inside and outside.”

Here's the rest of your Wake-up caw ...
  • Tandon Doss has exceeded expectations in filling in for Jacoby Jones as the Ravens' punt returner. In fact, he leads the NFL with a 16.7-yard average. But Doss has excelled with an unusual technique to fielding punts. Here's the full story on the team's official website.
  • The Baltimore Sun's Mike Preston believes the Ravens have potential but lack consistency. "If you're a pessimist, you can say that this appears to be a .500 team with a lot of weaknesses," Preston wrote. "If you're an optimist, you can point out that the running game started to jell last week, the passing game will improve with the return of receiver Jacoby Jones and the Ravens now have (offensive tackle Eugene) Monroe. As for me, I see this team for what it is, regardless of whether it beats Green Bay. The Ravens have a lot of potential, but they haven't played up to it. There is still time for growth, but so far there has been little."
  • According to Comcast SportsNet, the Ravens have been in more third-down situations (86) than any team in the NFL, and quarterback Joe Flacco wants that to change. “The biggest thing I like to see is for us to get more first downs on first or second down, so we don’t put ourselves in third-down situations,” Flacco said. “If you give yourself three or four third downs over the course of a drive, you’re eventually not going to convert one of them. You’re not going to score a lot of points if you give yourself all kinds of third downs."
  • Four starts into his NFL career, rookie safety Matt Elam told The Carroll County Times that he's "still got a lot to improve on," and coach John Harbaugh would agree with that assessment. “I don’t really have any grade for it other than that, other than I think he is doing well," Harbaugh said. “But he can get a lot better, the mental part probably more than anything. You’re back there, and they go after you a little bit. They test you. They test your eyes, test your spacing, your discipline, and they’ve been testing him that, and he’s held up pretty darn well.”

Jamison Hensley

ESPN Ravens reporter

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