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How undrafted rookie linebacker Zach Orr made the Ravens' roster

Shortly after his arrival with the Ravens, undrafted rookie linebacker Zach Orr learned the path to making the roster.

Veteran linebacker and special-teams contributor Albert McClellan, another small-school success story who made the Ravens as an undrafted free agent, told Orr he needed to concentrate on excelling at the special teams aspect of his job.

Determined to make the team, Orr closely followed that advice and caught the coaches' eye with his intensity, speed and hitting ability in kick coverage. That included delivering a resounding tackle from the former North Texas standout while covering a kickoff in the Ravens' preseason finale against the New Orleans Saints last week.

Two days later, Orr survived the Ravens' final major roster cutdown.

"He earned it," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said.

On Tuesday, there was Orr in the Ravens' locker room still on the active roster instead of veteran inside linebacker Josh Bynes, as Bynes was cut when the team re-signed cornerback Derek Cox.

"It feels good to be here," Orr said. "My mindset once I signed with the team was to come in and work hard. I'm just real fortunate and blessed to make the roster. When you're an undrafted rookie, you have to do something besides defense to make the team.

"They say once you're here you need to take somebody's job. Now that you're here, you need to work to keep that job. I'm just trying to learn from the veterans."

Orr was an All-Conference USA selection at North Texas and an All-Academic selection, leading the Mean Green with a career-high 123 tackles last season with 13.5 tackles for losses and four fumble recoveries. He finished his career with 365 tackles.

The 5-foot-11, 237-pounder isn't the biggest linebacker, but he ran the 40-yard dash in a 4.73 seconds and bench pressed 225 pounds 14 times with a 33-inch vertical leap and a 9-8 broad jump.

"There's players everywhere, Division I, Division II and Division III," Orr said. "If you can play, they definitely will find you."

During the preseason, Orr had a team-high three tackles on special teams and four tackles on defense.

"He played well," Harbaugh said. "He's a really smart football player. For being a young guy, he's a guy who picks up football very quickly. There are a lot of players who can physically do it in this league. But football is a complicated sport. Not to disparage any other sports, but there are a lot of processing that goes on football between the time the ball is snapped and the end of the play comes up.

"He's one of these guys who can understand and react on the run and do the right things. Not only that, he's physically pretty darn good. He can run, he's tough and he really made progress on special teams."

awilson@baltsun.com
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