With only 1 day until the start of the Baltimore Ravens training camp in Westminster, Maryland we take a look at what I think will be the 5 most important position battles throughout the month. Coming in as the most important battle to watch for in training camp is the one between veteran nose tackle Kelly Gregg and rookie nose tackle Terrence Cody.
With the Ravens losing two key back up defensive lineman in the off season, Justin Bannan and Dwan Edwards, Baltimore set out to revamp one of the most important positions on this team. With Kelly Gregg winding down his career and there being no realistic replacement on the roster, Ozzie Newsome set out to snag Alabama standout Terrence Cody in the 2nd round. Whoever lines up next to Haloti Ngata, it is going to be a very tough duo to stop from getting into the backfield. Kelly Gregg is the Ravens 2nd all time leading tackler behind Ray Lewis and has been one of the most important players to the success of our defense over the years. Terrence Cody is a mammoth nose tackle with elite strength, size and the athleticism of a gymnast (well, maybe not that last one) who should see a good amount of time with the number 1 defense.
Let's take a closer look at the battle between Gregg and Cody
Kelly Gregg - 6'0" - 320 lbs - 11 Years Experience
Defense Stats YEAR TEAM G TOT SOLO AST PD SACK FF REC INT YDS TD 1999 PHI 3 2 2 0 0 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 2001 BAL 8 10 7 3 1 1.0 0 0 0 0 0 2002 BAL 16 56 45 11 0 2.0 0 0 0 0 0 2003 BAL 16 80 63 17 0 3.0 0 0 0 0 0 2004 BAL 14 60 43 17 1 1.5 1 0 0 0 0 2005 BAL 16 61 36 25 2 2.5 0 0 0 0 0 2006 BAL 16 62 41 21 2 3.5 1 0 0 0 0 2007 BAL 16 80 56 24 3 3.0 0 0 0 0 0 2009 BAL 16 63 46 17 0 3.0 0 0 0 0 0 Career 121 474 339 135 9 19.5 2 0 0 0 0
- There is no doubt that Kelly Gregg will go down as one of the all time great Ravens. Being the 2nd all time leading tackler behind Ray Lewis at the nose tackle position should tell you just how good this guy is. At only 6'0" but built like a fire hydrant, Gregg is the ideal nose tackle in this league because of his brute strength and low center of gravity. Gregg has said he feels healthy and will be ready for the start of the season. A few years ago, "Buddy Lee" was almost at the point of retirement after numerous surgeries. Now, he is trying to make a come back and give us that muscle flex we all love seeing from the Oklahoma farm boy.
- What Gregg will need to do: Kelly Gregg will first need to show the coaches that he is indeed in good health and good shape for the start of the season. A brutal month of training camp in this god awful Maryland humidity should definitely test that. We already know what Gregg can do for this defense and how dominant he is a times, now we just need to see that if at 33 years old he can still bring it. I think he can.
Terrence Cody - 6'4" - 360? lbs - Rookie
Stats Overview Tackles Misc Interceptions YEAR TOT SOLO AST SACK STF STFY FF BK INT YDS AVG LNG TD PD 2008 23 7 16 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0.0 0 0 0 2009 28 12 16 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.0 0 0 0
- Looking at the stats above, you would think that Cody made no impact at Alabama. However, go watch the game tape and you will see one of the most dominant players in all of college football last year. In Cody's only two years with the Crimson Tide, the defense never allowed a 100 yard rusher. Is this guy not perfect for the Ravens then? The buzz around Baltimore is that Cody is an unstoppable force that cannot be contained. He is a much better athlete than people give him credit for and requires a double team every time.
- What Cody will need to do: Even though us Baltimore fans do not see this as big of a problem as others do, Cody does indeed need to watch his weight. We want him to be big, but 350 will probably be the maximum we want Cody playing at. If he can keep it between 340-350, we are heading in the right direction. Next Cody must show that he can do more than just stuff the run. We know that he is good at that, but one of our main focuses this off season was improving the pass rush and Cody is a piece to that puzzle. He is going to be double teamed so often, but we still want to see him dominate to make sure that a double team happens every play. Understand the playbook and your role on this team, and Cody should be a huge contributor this year.
Others in contention to win the battle: Brandon McKinney, Kelly Talavou
Who will win the battle for the starting nose tackle position?: When it comes down to it, Terrence Cody should be the guy for this position. Now, Kelly Gregg is still great, can still bring it and is still going to be a great player on this defense. However, Cody is the guy we have been targeting for nearly 2 years now and this guy needs to see the field. Will Cody be the starter in week 1? I am not sure, but I don't think there is any doubt this guy will be starting for us before the bye week. He is too fast, too strong, too big and younger than Gregg is right now. Pairing Cody with Haloti Ngata makes for maybe the most dominant defensive front line in the NFL and open up so many more 1 on 1 match-ups for our edge rushers. This is going to be the battle that I think will determine much of our season. The nose tackle position is maybe the most important position on this defense because of what it does for Ray Lewis and the rest of the guys.
Thanks for reading what I think are the 5 most important battles heading into camp. There are so many more that are worth noting and it is going to be a great camp to watch. Hope to see many of you in Westminster this coming week. Go Ravens!