By Aaron Wilson
The Baltimore Sun
6:00 AM EDT, May 31, 2013
History definitely isn't lost on Josh Bynes, particularly when it involves the Ravens' tradition for investing time and energy into developing undrafted inside linebackers.
Whether it's Dannell Ellerbe, Jameel McClain or Bart Scott, all were once undrafted free agents. All eventually became starters in Baltimore after apprenticeships on special teams.
Now, Bynes is hoping to follow a similar path at a position in flux following the retirement of middle linebacker Ray Lewis, Ellerbe signing a $35 million free agent contract with the Miami Dolphins and McClain still not fully cleared from a spinal cord contusion suffered last December.
"That's what I look forward to doing: taking advantage of the opportunity," Bynes told The Baltimore Sun during an American Red Cross event to benefit Oklahoma tornado victims Thursday in Baltimore. "I've seen the other guys do it before me, and I can do it as well."
When the Ravens' defense lined up at an organized team activity last week, Bynes was working with the starters. That figures to be the case again today when the Ravens hold another organized team activity at team headquarters.
The former Auburn starter is benefiting from an increased workload stemming from several factors, including second-round draft pick Arthur Brown sidelined after sports hernia surgery, Albert McClellan not practicing for undisclosed injury reasons and Rolando McClain recently retiring and contending with legal problems.
Bynes also earned this extended look based on how he performed when Lewis, Ellerbe and Jameel McClain were injured last season.
In three starts and 10 games, the former practice squad member held up solidly by recording 31 tackles. That included 13 tackles in a loss to the Denver Broncos.
And it was Bynes who made the final tackle of the NFL season, closing out the Ravens' Super Bowl victory over the San Francisco 49ers by bringing down returner Ted Ginn Jr.
"I'm going to continue to be confident and just know what I'm capable of doing, just doing my job and making sure everybody else is point with what they're doing and just going out there and being the leader," said Bynes, who won a national championship as a starter at Auburn in the ultra-competitive Southeastern Conference. "I'm just going out there and building on that. I'm doing my job. I know I'm a young guy, but the older guys look up to me like I'm an older guy as well.
"You've got to take that mentality and responsibility and keep on building on that. It does change how people think of you because you're doing your job and they believe in you and trust in you that you can do a lot of great things out there."
The 6-foot-1 Bynes has bulked up to 245 pounds, five pounds heavier than last season through diligent work in the Ravens' offseason conditioning program.
"Of course, I've got to get in good shape," Bynes said. "I've gotten a lot thicker since my rookie year. I barely recognize myself from my rookie year photos."
Competition awaits Bynes during training camp.
That's when Brown will be back from his injury and, quite possibly, Jameel McClain. He'll also have to hold off other challengers, including Nigel Carr.
"I've been through it before when all the guys where here," said Bynes, referencing former Ravens linebackers Prescott Burgess and Tavares Gooden. "I'm still here. I understand it's about competition. With this game, it comes with the territory."