Heated Defensive Competition at Ravens' OTAs

USA TODAY Sports

The Ravens lost seven defensive starters from last year, and the competition for those spots is more heated than ever

Defensive coordinator Dean Pees will face a daunting task this season in trying to fill the holes of seven starters who were lost on defense from his 2012 unit. As new players battle it out for these spots during offseason training activities (and surely into Training Camp) , Pees says he sees a more heated competition than the Ravens have had in years. "It's amped up a little bit as far as in the classroom and all that stuff", Pees told the team's official site, "Guys feel like they have a chance."

Pees also touched on the fact that, in past years, the inside linebackers on the roster came into OTAs knowing they would be already slated behind future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis. Lewis' retirement, however, has left a significant void in the middle of the defense and has created a healthy competition among the young ILBs on the team. The other inside linebacker spot, vacated by Dannell Ellerbe, is also ripe for the taking. There are also holes at cornerback, strong safety, free safety, and outside linebacker. While a most of those spots have already been presumably filled by offseason acquisitions Elvis Dumervil, Michael Huff, and Matt Elam, the battle at cornerback should be a very intrguing one. 2011 first-round pick Jimmy Smith has not lived up to expectations thus far and will have to compete with with likes of Pro Bowl special teamer Corey Graham, 4th-year man Chykie Brown, and a seasoned veteran in Chris Johnson.

The increased level of competition on the defense this offseason should make for a very interesting preseason and hopefully will make the depth of this that much better as they enter the 2013 season amidst a myriad critics and skeptics.

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