With Terrell Suggs likely sidelined for all of 2012, the Ravens will turn to rookie Courtney Upshaw to fill the pass rushing void left by the 2011 NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
Although he’s not trying to replace Suggs, Upshaw will need to step in right away and make an impact. The former Alabama star will hope to have a year similar to the players below -- five of the best Ravens’ rookie seasons in team history.
Torrey Smith, WR, 2011
Smith set team rookie records in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns with 50, 841 and seven, respectively. Long lacking a playmaker that can stretch the field, the Ravens hope Smith's last season is just a stepping stone for something even greater in the future.
5. Ray Lewis, LB, 1996
In the Ravens inaugural season, the team finished just 4-12, but found a defensive staple and future leader in Lewis. He finished the year with 110 tackles, 2.5 sacks and an interception in 14 games.
4. Peter Boulware, LB, 1997
Boulware played just eight NFL seasons, all in Baltimore, and his rookie season was one of his finest. Selected fourth overall in 1997, the Florida State product had 66 tackles, 11.5 sacks and a forced fumble as a rookie. Boulware was named AP Defensive Rookie of the year for his efforts.
3. Terrell Suggs, DE, 2003
Suggs may have started just one game as a rookie and made just 27 tackles, but he made quite the impact regardless. The Arizona State product had 12 sacks and six force fumbles, which both remained career highs before a stellar 2011 campaign in which he eclipsed both. The No. 10 pick in the 2003 NFL Draft was named AP Defensive Rookie of the Year that season, as well. The Ravens won the AFC North that year, going 10-6 before falling to the Titans, 20-17, in the Wild Card round.
2. Ed Reed, S, 2002
In 2002, the Ravens had 19 rookies and first year players on their roster, one being Reed. As the 24th overall pick in the previous April’s Draft, the University of Miami product was expected to step in and contribute right away. He finished the season with 85 tackles, five interceptions, one sack and 12 pass breakups.
1. Jamal Lewis, RB, 2000
The fifth overall pick out of Tennessee in the 2000 NFL Draft, the Ravens had high hopes for Lewis right away and he delivered. In his first NFL season, Lewis ran for 1,364 yards and six touchdowns. As a freshman with the Volunteers, coincidentally, Lewis also ran for 1,364 yards. He helped lead the Ravens to a 34-7 win over the Giants in Super Bowl XXXV with 103 yards and a touchdown, becoming the second rookie to eclipse the century mark on the ground in the NFL’s biggest game.