The Ravens just finished up a session of rookie minicamp here in scenic Owings Mills, Md., and a big topic of conversation was Courtney Upshaw. The second-rounder from Alabama, the Ravens highest draft pick, will be expected to come in and compete. That was the deal anyway.
But when stud pass-rusher Terrell Suggs went down with a torn Achilles, putting his 2012 in jeopardy, the spotlight shined brighter on the newest outside linebacker.
Upshaw is hoping to step in and earn a spot on the field. But he isn’t putting undue pressure on himself.
“The coaches told me to come out here this mini-camp and learn the defense, come out here and compete,” Upshaw said. “Honestly, speaking on Suggs, there’s only one Suggs. You can’t replace Suggs. Everybody’s got to come in as a team. The veteran leadership on this team is not going to allow slacking on my part or anybody else’s. Everybody’s gotta step up.”
Good attitude. And really, Upshaw will combine with Paul Kruger, Sergio Kindle and others to make up for the loss of 14 sacks. Oh, and remember that whole thing about Suggs missing the year? Well, the Ravens are expecting him back at some point in 2012.
“I’ll take that outlook,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “I’m on board for that. Everything we’ve heard from the doctors would be consistent with that. Everything Terrell said about it has been right on. It’s just going to depend on the injury, the healing process and his effort and work.”
Harbaugh was pretty adamant that his defense can withstand the loss of one guy. They’ve done it with Ray Lewis and Ed Reed over the past two years. It’ll take a collective effort, but he’s optimistic.
“It’s obvious,” Harbaugh said. “We’re a team. That’s why you draft guys and bring guys in. It’s never about one guy ever. I know Terrell said that. We’ve done that before. We’ve handled losses to our biggest stars. Terrell, Ray and Ed.It’ll be up to all of us to do a little bit better.”
Wait, one more thing. This was great. Upshaw was asked about how he heard about Suggs’ injury.
“I heard about it on Twitter,” Upshaw said. “Man, somebody wrote me on Twitter. I really didn’t believe it until my agent texted me, saying it and then I got a bunch of calls and on Twitter, everybody was saying, ‘You gotta step up and things like that.’ … But Everybody’s gotta be ready and be prepared. I can’t come in and not be prepared. Even if Suggs was healthy, I gotta be prepared.”