Ravens need young defensive players to contribute

That probably won't happen, either.

Kruger and McClellan have done decent jobs stopping the run even though both players had trouble setting the edge last week against Jacksonville.

Kruger, in his fourth season, was a part-time rushing specialist a year ago, but is an every down player now. McClellan, in his second season, has been a bonus for the Ravens.

He was an undrafted rookie out of Marshall who stepped up to replace Upshaw instead of stepping aside.

"Being able to play both inside and outside has helped his cause," said Harbaugh. "He understands this defense inside and out. He is one of those kinds of guys with no downside. He plays a real solid game and has sneaky athleticism where he can make some plays you don't expect him to make."

The Ravens might need a few more surprises. Both Jones and Cody had strong off seasons reshaping their bodies in the weight room, but neither is much of a pass rushing threat.

Cody isn't even the starting nose guard even though he'll probably get more playing time than current starter Ma'ake Kemoeatu.

Jones can push the pocket inside but he isn't going to beat anybody to the outside.

"Everybody has their strength," Harbaugh said. "He [Jones] is a run stopper, no doubt."

All teams have their specialists and the Ravens are no different. It's just at this point some of these young players haven't been strong where they are supposed to be strong.

They have to grow up, but it might take another year or two before they can pass the torch of greatness.

"I would say after the third year a young player becomes a veteran," Harbaugh said. "Either they develop and get it, or they won't be around long. That's just the nature of this business."

mike.preston@baltsun.com

 
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