Baltimore Ravens

Ravens DT Willie Henry’s goal for 2018 is to ‘become a full-on starter’

By many statistical measures, Willie Henry enjoyed a successful season. After being active for only one game last year before getting placed on injured reserve Nov. 15, the Ravens defensive tackle finished the 2017 season tied for third on the team in sacks with 3½, leading the linemen in batted passes with five and ranking second among the linemen in tackles with 33.

With those numbers as a foundation, Henry, the organization’s fourth of five picks in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL draft, said his objective for 2018 is clear.


“Become a full-on starter,” he said Monday. “To be a guy that this defense can rely on — day in and day out — [with] pass rushing and stopping the run.”

A healthy scratch for the first two games of the season, the 6-foot-2, 308-pound Henry played in 14, including three starts, as starting defensive tackle Brandon Williams needed four games to recover from a left foot injury. Henry’s best performance of the season was probably his two-sack, five-tackle effort in a 23-0 shutout at the Green Bay Packers on Nov. 19, but during his first four games, he had 14 tackles, four batted passes, and a half-sack.


“I think the more plays you get as a player, the more confident and comfortable you get and the more things you see as a player that you see on film,” he said. “It’s kind of hard coming out of games and sitting on the sidelines and not playing. So it was good filling out the games and understanding the tempo and understanding the blocking schemes and things like that. So I’m excited for next year, piggybacking and just going off what we had this year and just adding on and building.”

Henry’s competition for starting roles along the defensive front are Williams, nose tackle Michael Pierce, and defensive ends Brent Urban and/or Carl Davis. Williams is one of the top run-stopping defensive linemen in the league, Pierce finished the season ranked fourth by Pro Football Focus in run stops by an interior defender (34) and Urban was the starting end until suffering a Lisfranc foot injury that ended his season Sept. 24.

But breaking into the group might not seem as far-fetched now as it did in the preseason, and Henry has a plan on what to work on to get there.

“Everything — whether that’s stopping the run or [preventing opponents from] converting a pass on third down or getting the rush and getting to the quarterback more,” he said. “I feel like I can work on everything. I’m not complete or can say that there’s nothing I need to work on my game.”