The Baltimore Ravens defense will look very different in 2013. In particular, the linebacker corps will be without three of its regular starters--Ray Lewis, Dannell Ellerbe and Paul Kruger. What the Ravens currently have, for now, are a lot of outside linebackers that will be difficult to keep off the field. Courtney Upshaw, now in his second year, would appear to be the odd man out next to Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil, but defensive coordinator Dean Pees said Thursday that all three players could be on the field at the same time next season.
"The way we teach this defense, all the [linebackers] have to know all four spots ... because, again, I've always told these guys that I don't want a good player standing on the sideline by me with a player out there on the field that I don't think is as good because you can't play another position. So, our guys have always learned a lot of different spots.
"We'll do that again this spring, and then we'll just make a decision after the OTAs and the minicamp and going into fall camp where everybody kind of really fits in this thing."
Upshaw gives the Ravens the most versatility. Pees suggested that the 2012 second-round draft pick could move inside, allowing Suggs and Dumervil to remain true pass rushers. Upshaw's size (6'2, 272 pounds) could make him a force in the middle of the Ravens' defense. He actually graded out as the team's best run defender as a rookie, according to Pro Football Focus.
"He'll be in competition as an outside ‘backer out there," Pees said. "That's where we'll start him out. But the other thing is that you can't have too many pass rushers, and we can find a way to get them all on the field now. We can scheme up some things to get all those guys on the field."