It's like a fraternity, Zachary Orr is trying to explain, and in the literal sense of the word, he is correct: The Ravens' undrafted linebackers are a brotherhood, sharing practice reps, small-school pedigrees and the life lessons that have so far kept them kin.
Terry Orr is the patriarch of what might be the busiest football family this fall. His oldest son, Terrance, is the wide receivers coach at DeSoto High School, a highly-touted prep team in Texas. Zachary, a backup inside linebacker for the Ravens, is entering his second NFL season. Nick is a sophomore defensive back at Texas Christian University. Their youngest son, Chris, has a chance to start at linebacker as a true freshman for the University of Wisconsin.
Nick Perry, a safety, and Trey DePriest, an inside linebacker, are products of the University of Alabama, the alma mater of Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome and a frequent source of Ravens defensive talent. They play positions where undrafted players frequently stick on the Ravens roster.
Now that former Ravens outside linebacker Pernell McPhee has officially joined the Chicago Bears on a five-year deal worth nearly $40 million, the veteran pass rusher intends to provide an intimidation factor to his new football team.
Annually lacking the salary cap space to make major outside additions and content to reward their own players while building through the draft, the Ravens traditionally stay quiet through the first couple days of free agency when money changes hands at an eye-popping rate.
On Thursday at the annual State of the Ravens address, Steve Bisciotti, seated alongside Ravens president Dick Cass, general manager Ozzie Newsome and head coach John Harbaugh, was relaxed, introspective and clearly excited about the future of the organization.
No team has been awarded more compensatory picks than the Ravens, who have shown that they are able to identify talent in the draft and unafraid to let talented but costly contributors leave in free agency.
Free agency will start in a little over a month, but two things have become apparent: it's going to be tough for the Ravens to upgrade at center and the Ravens are in line to lose several defensive free agents.
When the Ravens signed Corey Graham to a two-year, $4.204 million contract two years ago that included a $1.2 million signing bonus, they promised him a shot at a role beyond special teams. Two years later, the former Chicago Bears Pro Bowl special-teams ace has emerged as a valuable nickel back and spot starter whom the Ravens would like to retain as an unrestricted free agent.
Ravens veteran middle linebacker Daryl Smith stabilized the defense after Ray Lewis' retirement. Signed in June to a one-year, $2.125 million contract, Smith delivered on the Ravens' relatively modest investment after being signed to the equivalent of a prove-it deal after an injury-plagued final season with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Ravens are bracing for a pivotal encounter against Peterson that represents the greatest test so far for their revamped group of inside linebackers. Since Ray Lewis retired in February, Daryl Smith has stabilized the middle linebacker spot while playing opposite a platooning group of weak-side inside linebackers in Jameel McClain, Josh Bynes and rookie Arthur Brown.
The topics of hazing and bullying are being discussed in NFL locker rooms after the Miami Dolphins suspended veteran guard Richie Incognito for conduct detrimental to the team for harassing teammate Jonathan Martin, a second-year offensive tackle.
The three-time Pro Bowl selection has lost two fumbles this season, though, with the latest coming during a 26-23 win over the Miami Dolphins when 6 foot 4, 355-pound defensive lineman Paul Soliai shook the football loose and former Ravens linebacker Dannell Ellerbe pounced on the football.