Sunday’s game between the Ravens and Carolina Panthers will feature two of the game’s top middle linebackers in C.J. Mosley for the former and Luke Kuechly for the latter. On Thursday, Mosley, a three-time Pro Bowler in his four years, paid homage to Kuechly, a five-time Pro Bowler in six seasons.
“He’s definitely one of the top linebackers,” Mosley said before practice. “He set the standard definitely since I got into the league, and he was doing that before for a few years before I got to the league. When guys talk about elite linebackers, he’s one of the names that always pops up. I consider myself in that top category, too, but mainly for me, I just make sure that I’m doing my job for my guys. I don’t really try to compare what he does best to what I do best because at the end of the day, everybody has their own style of play.”
Mosley, 26, and Kuechly, 27, have been intertwined since the organization made Mosley its first-round pick in the 2014 NFL draft. They are the only defensive players since 2014 with at least 500 tackles, eight interceptions and eight sacks. Kuechly leads all defenders in tackles since 2014 with 551, while Mosley ranks fifth with 511.
In Sunday’s 24-23 loss to the New Orleans Saints, Mosley made a season-high 11 solo tackles en route to a season-best 16 stops and was denied a forced fumble and recovery when coach John Harbaugh’s challenge that the linebacker had stripped running back Alvin Kamara was rejected. But in the eyes of defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale, who has coached Mosley since his arrival to the NFL, that was Mosley’s finest performance.
“I think that was the best game I’ve ever seen him play because I know he was credited with 16 tackles, but we counted at least 20 on the tape,” Martindale said. “He was all over the place. He was playing fast, and I look forward to seeing the matchup — it’s not really a matchup — between him and Luke Kuechly this week, and it’s going to be a fun thing to watch.”
Mosley was more understated in his assessment of his outing, saying, “I felt good. I’ve had great games before — some better than others as far as stats go. But I felt fast. Going out there for warmups, I had a good feeling about the game. I was just happy to be able to make a lot of plays.”
Mosley said he will avoid comparing himself to Kuechly because he has to pay attention to the defensive game plan for containing a Carolina offense headlined by quarterback Cam Newton, running back Christian McCaffrey and tight end Greg Olsen. But Martindale wasted little time when presented with the same task.
“I know who I’m taking,” he quipped. “You know who I’m taking.”