"Our first outing against the Redskins we got a lot to improve on, but it was a good start," said Ravens assistant coach Joe Cullen when talking about his young defensive lineman. (Kevin Richardson / Baltimore Sun video)
If there's anything the Ravens' 23-3 victory over the Washington Redskins on Thursday night at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore proved, it's that the defensive line is perhaps one of the deepest in the NFL.
Aside from starters Brent Urban, Michael Pierce and Brandon Williams, who combined for eight tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack and two forced fumbles, defensive end Bronson Kaufusi had two tackles and one sack. Rookie defensive tackle Patrick Ricard produced two tackles, including one for a loss.
Defensive tackle Willie Henry added one tackle and a tipped pass, rookie defensive end Chris Wormley one tackle for a loss, and defensive tackle Carl Davis one quarterback hurry. Handing out enough playing time to keep each player happy might be a difficult assignment, but defensive line coach Joe Cullen appreciates the amount of talent he has to work with.
"Those are great problems to have," he said after Sunday's practice at the team's training facility in Owings Mills. "I think it keeps everybody pushing each other. What we don't ever want to have is, you have a [No.] 1, and the next guy's in the game, and there's a huge drop-off. We want them to be right there, and we've got guys that are pushing to get to that level."
Williams — who signed a five-year, $52.5 million contract in March that made him the highest-paid nose tackle in NFL history — Pierce and Urban are locks to make the 53-man roster. Davis, Kaufusi and Wormley are third-round draft picks from 2015, 2016 and 2017, respectively, and Henry is a fourth-round choice from last year. Ricard was an undrafted free agent, but has been impressive in training camp thus far.
The Ravens will not be able to keep all eight defensive linemen, but coach John Harbaugh said the team will bide its time before making any decisions.
"We have a lot of really good D-linemen, and they can't all make the team, probably," Harbaugh said Saturday. "But we have depth, and I'm really excited about those guys. That competition makes everybody better. We're going to have a heck of a group, and I'm sure people are going to be calling us here shortly with some of our guys. We just have to see how it plays out, but we have a really good group of guys."