That development has been especially noticeable with Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata being limited recently with two tackles in the past two games while dealing with a painful sprained knee and shoulder injury. He was practically unblockable prior to getting hurt against Dallas.
"Obviously, Ngata hasn't been as dominant," Cosell said. "That's a huge factor. You can see it in his performance."
Jameel McClain is the new starting middle linebacker. Signed to a $10.5 million contract during the offseason, McClain hasn't generated big plays.
"I would say McClain neither stands out positively or negatively," Cosell said. "He's not a playmaker, nor is he playing poorly."
Dannell Ellerbe is starting next to McClain at weakside inside linebacker. The former undrafted free agent from Georgia has had an encouraging season so far with 49 tackles and 3 1/2 sacks, including a game-high nine tackles and the Ravens' only sack against the Browns.
However, Ellerbe hasn't always played fundamentally sound and within the framework of the defense
"You can see that he has talent, but he struggles with play recognition and gap discipline," Cosell said. "They have to find out if he can be that guy to solidify the middle."
Injuries affecting defense
The run defense has been dented severely by the losses of several key players.
Although Lewis, 37, wasn't having a sterling season before tearing his right triceps tendon, undergoing surgery and being placed on injured reserve-designated to return, his experience and emotional leadership are regarded as invaluable.
Standout cornerback Lardarius Webb is out for the season with a torn left anterior cruciate ligament.
Webb was arguably the Ravens' top tackler as far as being a decisive, striking presence, and had 25 tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery before getting hurt against Dallas.
"I love Webb, and I think they miss him a ton," Cosell said. "Webb added a lot as a blitzer to the pressure concepts."
And Pollard (rib contusion), Reed (torn shoulder labrum), Kemoeatu (knee), Ngata and McPhee have all been slowed by injuries, affecting their production.
The Ravens have plugged in new personnel to try to make up for injuries and losing two gritty veteran starters in outside linebacker Jarret Johnson and defensive end Cory Redding to free agency. But the problem hasn't gone away.
"Being banged-up is a big part of what's gone on," McPhee said. "But there's no excuse when you've got grown men out there and we haven't played the way we want to play."