Toward the end of his four-year tenure with the Ravens, Elvis Dumervil was not the same player who set a franchise record with 17 sacks in 2014. But the outside linebacker was still capable enough of collapsing a pocket and setting the edge.
Since Dumervil’s release March 8, the defense has turned to Matthew Judon to fill the strong-side linebacker position opposite rush linebacker Terrell Suggs. That might seem like a daunting proposition for a player entering his second year as a professional, but Judon, a fifth-round draft pick in 2016, welcomes the challenge.
“That’s what I came to do,” he said after Sunday morning’s practice at the team’s headquarters in Owings Mills. “I came here to play, and I came here to be on the field. So I’ve just worked towards that, and I’m reaping the benefits of my work, and hopefully, it will show up in the game.”
The biggest noticeable difference with Judon is his weight loss. Listed at 6 feet 3 and 275 pounds last season, he is now listed at 263 pounds. But defensive line coach Joe Cullen said Judon has made strides in grasping the intricacies of the defense and his role within the unit’s framework.
“Matt really learned all that, and he’s done a great job,” Cullen said. “He’s become a really good student of the game. He was big and athletic, and now he leaned up a little bit so that he can do a better job in coverage. But I think he’s really explosive. He did a great job in the weight room.”
Judon, the NCAA leader in sacks (21) in 2015, produced four sacks last fall, tying defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan, since traded, for fifth on the franchise’s rookie record for sacks. The expectation is that Judon will exceed that number this season, but he said he has not set a total.
“I feel like out here, you should apply more pressure on yourself than the coaches apply to yourself and than your teammates apply,” he said. “You should always want to be the one. So that’s what I want to do.”
The newest absences to Sunday’s session were offensive tackles Ronnie Stanley and Stephane Nembot, rookie outside linebacker Tyus Bowser, cornerback Brandon Boykin and wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. No reason was given for their nonparticipation. … During practice, rookie guard Jermaine Eluemunor and strong safety Eric Weddle walked off the field and into the locker room with trainers. Rookie wide receiver Quincy Adeboyejo injured his left leg when it was pinned underneath as he slid to make a catch. He was held out of the last 15 minutes of practice and rode a cart back to the locker room. … As delighted as he was with the defensive line’s ability to limit Washington to 39 total rushing yards and collect two of three sacks, Cullen said the unit has to do a better job of coming up with fumbles. “I thought we did a great job getting the ball out, punching the ball out,” he said. “We’ve emphasized that with [linebackers] coach [Don] Martindale and [running backs coach] Thomas [Hammock’s] drills in the takeaway and recovery drill. We had the ball on the ground four times. We’ve got to go get the ball, and that’s effort.”