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Ravens rookie lineman John Urschel 'honored' to make the team's active roster

When the Ravens made their decisions Saturday, rookie guard John Urschel survived the final major roster cutdown.

The fifth-round draft pick from Penn State is now one of the top backups to Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda and left guard Kelechi Osemele as the Ravens cut former starter A.Q. Shipley.

"Every team made some tough decisions, the Ravens no exception," Urschel said this weekend. "The fact that I'm still here says something about them believing in me, and I don't want to let this organization or my teammates down. It's an honor. Honestly, it's a dream come true for me."

Urschel was a third-team All-American selection last year for the Nittany Lions and a two-time All-Big Ten Conference selection. He was also a four-time Academic All-Big Ten Conference selection.

Urschel won the William V. Campbell Trophy as the nation's top scholar-athlete last year. The math whiz is pursuing a master's degree in math education.

During the preseason, Urschel displayed signs of progress. The 6-foot-3, 308-pounder improved his technique and footwork.

"I feel like I’ve made some really big strides in a lot of things," Urschel said. "One of the biggest things is my versatility, being able to play different positions. Another thing is just getting used to the speed of the game, and that’s just experience,in-game experience, in-practice experience against some serious veterans, guys like Haloti [Ngata], Chris Canty. Chris Canty, that’s a guy that, when I was in high school, I loved watching him play for the Giants."

Urschel played in 40 games at Penn State and had 21 touchdown-resulting blocks and 181 knockdowns in two seasons as a starter.

Urschel said he learned a lot from Shipley, a fellow Penn State alum.

"We became very good friends while we were here," Urschel said. "He’s a guy that really took me under his wing, taught me a lot of things. A guy who didn’t have to help me, considering that I’m a young guy, he’s a veteran. He helped me every single day and really just helped teach me how to be a pro in this league.”

Now that the Ravens are done with the preseason and getting ready for their season-opener Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals, Urschel has seen an increase in intensity around the training complex.

"I’s a different type of focus," Urschel said. "I don’t really know what to expect, to be honest. This is my first go-around. I got a taste of what practice is like with a smaller roster. Every single day, I’m just going to come in, work hard and see what the day has for me.”

awilson@baltsun.com

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