Following a rough season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals where they failed to set the edge on a consistent basis, Ravens outside linebackers Albert McClellan and Courtney Upshaw displayed improvement Sunday.
During a 24-23 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field, both players contributed to limiting Eagles running back LeSean McCoy to 81 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries for an average of 3.2 yards per carry.
McClellan recorded a career-high six tackles, including two tackles for losses, a pass deflection and a fumble recovery.
Both linebackers played with a more physical style Sunday.
"I think I played pretty good, better than what I did before," said McClellan, a former undrafted free agent starting his third NFL game. "I'm getting more comfortable. The game is starting to slow down for me now."
Meanwhile, Upshaw started his first NFL game with veteran outside linebacker Paul Kruger out with a back injury.
The second-round draft pick from Alabama finished with a career-high six tackles, one for a loss.
"I think Courtney covered his ground," defensive end Pernell McPhee said. "I really think he played great."
Upshaw has 10 tackles and a half-sack through two games.
"I could have done some things better technique-wise, but it's definitely something to build on," Upshaw said. "I don't feel like I played a bad game. ... Don't go out there and mess up. Of course with me being a rookie, you kind of have those nervous tendencies. After that first snap, I felt good and just played my game."
Where McClellan, Upshaw and the entire front seven needed to do more was in pressuring Eagles quarterback Michael Vick.
Vick had far too much time to operate, completing 23 of 32 passes for 371 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions for a 94.7 passer rating as well as the game-winning touchdown run. He was only sacked twice, once by strong safety Bernard Pollard and once by inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, and was hit only three times.
"You have to try to contain them," Upshaw said of Vick and McCoy. "They are athletes and they are going to make a play here and there. We tried our best to contain them. I feel we did a good job, but they got outside a couple times. Like I said, they are going to make plays. They are athletes."
Although Kruger said he'll definitely return this week against the New England Patriots at M&T Bank Stadium, Upshaw expressed confidence that he did well enough to garner more playing time.
"I feel I have, but it's all in the coaches' hands," Upshaw said. "I try to do what I do best every week."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun