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Ravens defensive tackle Michael Pierce continuing to hone pass-rush skills

Ravens defensive tackle Michael Pierce continuing to hone pass-rush skills
Owings Mills, MD -- 06/14/2018 -- Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Michael Pierce (97) during the final day of mini camp at the team's training facility. (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun Staff) [ FBN RAVENS MINI CAMP ] 1 Winning Drive 54 RT (DSC_6266.JPG) (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun)

After a quiet showing in the Ravens’ first two preseason games, Michael Pierce had a productive effort in Monday’s 20-19 win at the Indianapolis Colts.

In only 13 snaps, the defensive tackle finished with two tackles, one forced fumble and one quarterback hurry. His strip of rookie running back Jordan Wilkins unfortunately led to wide receiver Chester Rogers collecting the loose ball in the end zone for a 10-7 Colts lead in the second quarter, but Pierce was still encouraged by his performance.

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“It’s a good start to the year,” he said Thursday. “Of course, none of that counts, but I felt great. I felt like I was moving well, and I got some pressure on the quarterback, and that’s what I’ve been working on. So it’s a great sign.”

Pierce said back-to-back joint practices with the Colts on Friday and Saturday helped him and nose tackle Brandon Williams figure out how Indianapolis’ offensive front planned to match up against them. But the most promising note was the quarterback hurry he had because applying pressure to the quarterback is an area to which he has devoted considerable time.

“It’s great, especially the pass-rush aspect,” said Pierce, who had one sack in the 2017 season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals before getting shut out in the final 15 games. “I feel like I played pretty well in the run last year, but that’s something that I definitely emphasized during the whole offseason – just getting to the quarterback. So to see those things work, it gives me confidence going into this game and into the regular season.”

Last year’s defense finished tied for 11th in the NFL in sacks with 41, but 19 came from the outside linebacker duo of Terrell Suggs and Matthew Judon. Defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale said developing a consistent pass rush from the defensive front is a priority.

“If we can just sit and rush four and get pressure on the quarterback, that’s what we’ll do,” he said. “I think any coordinator will tell you, ‘If you only have to rush four and you play coverage, that’s good living right there.’ ”

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