Baltimore Ravens

Courtney Upshaw, who finished 2014 without a sack, aims for more in 2015

His value rarely questioned inside the Ravens locker room, outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw enters the final year of his rookie contract ready to "do more" to set himself up for the future and help Ravens in another Super Bowl run.

"Honestly, I came into this year wanting to do more — not really trying to focus just on that pass rush, something I know I need to contribute more in that phase of my game," Upshaw said. "But I drop in coverage a lot, so I've got to stay focused to that, as well."


Upshaw plays a position that, on the Ravens roster, is most closely associated with quarterback sacks. Elvis Dumervil led the team with 17.5 sacks last season and Terrell Suggs had 12. Reserve Pernell McPhee had 7.5 sacks and parlayed them into a five-year, $38 million contract with the Chicago Bears in March.

Despite his respectable 42 tackles last season, Upshaw didn't have a sack, and hasn't brought down the quarterback since Dec. 22, 2013, when he had a half-sack against the New England Patriots.


He nearly sacked Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in Week 2 last year, but instead was flagged for unnecessary roughness after hitting him hard in the chest.

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According to Pro Football Focus, no outside linebacker who played more than a quarter of his team's snaps rushed the quarterback less often than Upshaw, who was part of the pass rush on 116 of 260 passing plays (44.6 percent) last season.

He has three career sacks, all of them coming in his first two seasons.

"When I got here, [Suggs] was down so I started out as more of a straight-line [pass rush] guy, not really dropping in coverage," Upshaw said. "Then as [he] came back, I became what I am now, more of a setting-the-edge cover guy, and that's fun for me. Coming into the league, of course I wanted to get sacks. Everybody knows my stats from year one to [year] three, and like I said, I want to do more. The time is right now."

The Ravens might not have a place for Upshaw in the pass rush in 2015, either, with rookie Za'Darius Smith expected to take McPhee's role. Despite his desire for a more productive fourth professional season, Upshaw, the 2012 second-round NFL draft pick, doesn't seem to mind.

"It's a big year for the Ravens as a whole, not just for myself," he said. "I've never been a selfish player — a lot of people know that."