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Baltimore Sun

Ravens' pass rush, 'backers catch Harbaugh's eye

For maybe the 153rd time since the start of training camp, Ravens coach John Harbaugh was asked about the impressive play of inside linebacker Jameel McClain, who has been lining up next to Ray Lewis on the first-team defense.

"He's consistent. He's physical completing tackles. He's solid in pass coverage," Harbaugh said.

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Harbaugh added that the competition among McClain, Tavares Gooden, Dannell Ellerbe and the rest of the linebackers has made them all pick up their games.

"The competition at linebacker has been so good," Harbaugh said. "All those guys are getting better. They're making big strides every day because they're pushing each other. That's the value of competition."

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Another thing that impressed Harbaugh on Saturday afternoon was the Ravens' pass rush, which generated consistent pressure on quarterbacks Joe Flacco, Marc Bulger and Troy Smith.

"The pass rush, especially in the red zone and the blitzkrieg, was especially ferocious," Harbaugh said. "It's good for our offense to see that. I'm looking forward to see how it pays off in games, obviously. Right now, it's the best we've seen it."

Even Harbaugh got in on the act defensively, snatching a tipped pass out of the air on the sidelines then stutter-stepping as if he was going to return it to the house.

"I tried to give Antwan [Barnes] a little stiff arm. He did pull off a little bit, thank goodness," Harbaugh said. "Yeah, I've got pretty good hands. You know, I caught balls from my brother [former NFL quarterback Jim Harbaugh] all those years, I can catch. ... The dream never dies."


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