Inside Ravens outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil's locker, the veteran pass rusher keeps a reminder of a milestone he's chasing.
It's a simple note with "23" written on it, signifying the number of sacks Dumervil would need to break the NFL single-season record established by former New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan. Strahan set the record during the final game of the 2001 season when he sacked Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre to finish with 22 1/2 and top Mark Gastineau's old mark.
Although Dumervil is a four-time Pro Bowl selection, Strahan's record — and a Super Bowl ring — have eluded him as he prepares for his 10th NFL season and third with the Ravens.
"If I can hit that number, that'll mean we'll be in the Super Bowl for sure," Dumervil said during the Ravens' minicamp last month. "You try to win games, you try to win championships. To me, there's nothing more important, because you can have the stats and accolades, but if you're sitting home, it really doesn't do any justice."
Dumervil finished last season by tying a career high with 17 sacks and breaking Peter Boulware's single-season Ravens franchise record (15). He finished third in the NFL in sacks behind Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Justin Houston (22) and Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (201/2).
With 90 career sacks, Dumervil is within striking distance of reaching 100 this season. He ranks ninth among active players and has averaged more than 11 sacks over his eight seasons played (he missed the 2010 season with a torn pectoral muscle). Thirty-one former and current players have reached the century mark for sacks.
"I think that's a great achievement to try to reach," Dumervil said. "So, the opportunity is there and that's not always the case with everybody. I'm grateful for that. It just shows the consistency, and I don't take that lightly."
Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, the 2011 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, ranks seventh among active players with 106 1/2 sacks. Suggs and Dumervil formed one of the most dangerous pass rushing tandems in the NFL last season as they combined for 29 sacks.
Dumervil had two sacks in the Ravens' AFC wild-card victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, but was limited to one tackle and no sacks in an AFC divisional-round loss to the New England Patriots. Winning a Super Bowl is something that consumes Dumervil.
"You've got to take advantage of every moment," Dumervil said. "You never know when the next time [will be]. So, I do consider it sacred. That's why every offseason you train as hard as you can, go into minicamps and training camp and you just try to be your best you. And then, hopefully, that can help the team get to where we all want to get to."
Listed at 5 feet 11, 255 pounds, Dumervil has had fewer than 8 1/2 sacks in his career only once, when he had a career-low five sacks in 2008 with the Denver Broncos before rebounding with 17 in 2009. Dumervil had 35 tackles, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery last season.
Unlike Suggs, who appeared at least 15 to 20 pounds over his usual playing weight at minicamp, Dumervil was relatively lean for this time of year.
Suggs said he used this offseason primarily to rest and heal and vowed to get in better shape in time for the season. Dumervil, meanwhile, spent part of the offseason working out with Ravens left guard Kelechi Osemele in Miami.
"Everybody is different," Dumervil said. "We may be the same cloth, but we're cut different. For me, I go about it differently. That doesn't mean it's right or wrong.
"We all have different ways we prepare. You never know when it's your day, so I just try to go every day. I can't afford to pace it."
There's been a financial reward for Dumervil's success as a pass rusher, too. When Dumervil sacked New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees twice during a November victory, it created a $4 million financial windfall. With his 12th sack of the season, Dumervil triggered a $1 million one-time incentive clause for sacks in a single year.
His contract is worth $30 million over five years and would reach a maximum value of $33 million if he has 12 sacks in 2015.
Dumervil was recently ranked 46th on the NFL Network list of top 100 players, with balloting done by NFL players.
"You've got to respect how much Elvis puts into it and how hungry he stays," Ravens reserve defensive end Steve Means said. "Elvis is always grinding."
Ravens outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil has 90 career sacks. Here's a look at where Dumervil ranks among active players:
Rank Player Sacks
1. Jared Allen 134
2. John Abraham 133.5
3. DeMarcus Ware 127
4. Julius Peppers 125.5
5. Dwight Freeney 111.5
Baltimore Ravens Insider
6. Robert Mathis 111
7. Terrell Suggs 106.5
8. Mario Williams 91.0
9. Elvis Dumervil 90.0
10. Trent Cole 85.5
NFL players with 100 or more career sacks: 1. Bruce Smith 200; 2. Reggie White 198 ; 3. Kevin Greene 160; 4. Chris Doleman 150.5; 5. Michael Strahan 141.5; 6. Jason Taylor 139.5; 7t. John Randle 137.5, Richard Dent 137.5 ; 9. Jared Allen 134; 10. John Abraham 133.5; 11t. Lawrence Taylor 132.5, Leslie O'Neal 132.5; 13. Rickey Jackson 128; 14. DeMarcus Ware 127; 15. Derrick Thomas 125.5; 16. Julius Peppers 125.5; 17. Simeon Rice 122; 18. Clyde Simmons 121.5; 19. Sean Jones 113; 20. Dwight Freeney 111.5; 21. Robert Mathis 111; 22. Greg Townsend 109.5; 23. Pat Swilling 107.5; 24. Terrell Suggs 106. 5; 25. Trace Armstrong 106; 26t. Kevin Carter 104.5, Neil Smith 104.5; 27. Jim Jeffcoat 102.5; 29t. Charles Haley 100.5, William Fuller 100.5 ; 31. Andre Tippett 100.
— Aaron Wilson