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Lack of height provides leverage for Ravens' Elvis Dumervil

FootballElvis DumervilBaltimore RavensNFLPittsburgh SteelersPhilip Rivers

Uncoiling his upper body and legs with a powerful charge, Elvis Dumervil steamrolls offensive tackles with his trademark bull rush.

The Ravens' Pro Bowl pass rusher immediately generates forward movement with his initial push off the line of scrimmage, quickly engaging blockers with his hands and beating them to the punch.

Between a combination of his compact body at 5 feet 11, 260 pounds, strength and speed, Dumervil overwhelms bigger offensive linemen that tower over him. It's a case of lowest man wins, and Dumervil has won many encounters with 63 1/2 career sacks, including 37 sacks in the past three seasons with 10 forced fumbles during that span.

His lack of height cost Dumervil in terms of draft status coming out of Louisville, going in the fourth round to the Denver Broncos in the 2006 NFL draft. But it provides an asset for Dumervil in the hand-to-hand combat that goes on in the trenches -- whether he's lined up in a two-point stance as a 3-4 outside linebacker, which he'll operate under now that he's joined the Ravens on a five-year, $35 million contract, or during his time in a three-point stance as a traditional 4-3 defensive end in Denver.

"I was told I couldn’t play defensive end at the collegiate level, and the same thing happened when I got to the pros," said Dumervil, who led the NFL with 17 sacks during the 2009 season. "But, for me, in my eyes, I feel like I’mjust as tall as everybody. So, I guess that’s my world. But, as far as the football part of it, I think it helps with leverage. I think the game of football is played with leverage. Coach is always teaching pad level, and leaning and leverage. I guess I have instant leverage, so that helps.”

During a series of highlights displayed in Dumervil's selection as a top 100 player by his peers on NFL Network, his relentless style is on display.

Dumervil crushes unsuspecting New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady by generating acceleration and aggressively decking the former NFL Most Valuable Player, simply running past a right offensive tackle.

Dumervil, whose nickname is "Doom," chases down San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers after tossing aside an offensive tackle who failed to control him at the snap.

He simply pushed the offensive lineman back into the pocket before shedding him and bringing Rivers down to the ground.

"That's the leverage he's talking about," Ravens linebackers coach Don Martindale said. "We always joke with him about 6-foot, but he's got long arms. He'll use whatever it takes to get to the quarterback. He's relentless."

Dumervil blasts Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, knocking him to the ground a moment after he releases a pass.

In a playoff victory, Dumervil forces Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to fumble.

Whether it's a bull rush, spin move, swim move or speed rush, Dumervil has an extensive repertoire of pass rushing moves.

"His staple pretty much is his bull rush," Broncos offensive tackle Ryan Clady said during the NFL Network video. "He works off of that. He has long arms for how tall he is. He can lock you out. He's shorter, so it's tough."

Added New York Jets offensive tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson: "Shorter guys in the league offer different problems than a guy who's 6-foot-5. They generate a lot of power because they get under you."

Often compared to former Pittsburgh Steelers NFL Defensive Player of the Year outside linebacker James Harrison because of their shared lack of height and aggressive style, Dumervil plays the game with an edge and intensity.

"He's always had a chip on his shoulder every time he's been on the field," Martindale said. "He gets compared to Harrison a lot, but I've always thought they were two different guys. They both have their own strengths. ..

"When Elvis came out from Louisville, he said, ‘I’m the best pass rusher in the draft.’ And all he’s done, year in and year out, is he’s tried to be the best pass rusher. Not to take away from any of the other great pass rushers in this league, but his numbers show you he’s been really successful.”

awilson@baltsun.com

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FootballElvis DumervilBaltimore RavensNFLPittsburgh SteelersPhilip Rivers
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