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Chris Canty: Can He or Can't He Retain Starting Role?

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He's proved to be an important cog in the team's defensive machine. Will it stay that way?

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I apologize for my 'tongue twisting' titles.

Chris Canty has 'held the fort down' for the Ravens defense for two years now. Brought in to replace Pernell McPhee at DE as he transitioned to OLB, Canty was a 'Classic Ozzie' signing. A veteran who was signed on the cheap, came in, and performed well. While Canty hasn't played at a All-Pro level, you certainly can't say he's been a liability on defense either. He registered 33 tackles and a half-sack in 11 games as a starter last season, which he missed parts of due to a staph infection.

However, Father Time may be catching up to the thirty-two year-old Canty, as he's the only defensive lineman on the team over the age of 26.

Canty was considering retirement this offseason, as he was released by the Ravens as a cap casualty. However, Ozzie resigned him a month later to a two-year deal.

"My heart was telling me that I still wanted to play football, and importantly, my body said that I could still play football. Once I came to that realization, it was an easy decision."

- Chris Canty on potential retirement

By retaining his services, the Ravens have a great locker room presence in Canty. Him being the "old man" is essential to developing the group of youngsters behind him, as his experience and advice will prove to be just as valuable as his play on the field.

So just who are these 'youngsters' behind him?

"I’m excited about all the young guys who are on defensive line. It’s a tremendous collection of talent, a lot of guys that can do a lot of different things."

- Chris Canty

Canty's competition is: Kapron Lewis-Moore, a 2013 sixth-rounder, Brent Urban, a 2014 fourth-rounder, and DeAngelo Tyson, a 2012 seventh-rounder. The first two are very promising young prospects, yet they have never seen the field, because of season-ending injuries before the season even started. We really don't know what to expect out of these two, but early reports from Owings Mills have been positive, as both are recovering well. The third, Tyson, has proved to be a solid fixture for the team. He worked his way up from seventh-round flier to a rotational starter, as he started a career-high four games last year. His playing time looks to increase.

Can any of these guys usurp Canty for the starting gig? For now, I say no. We might have to revisit this question in a year, but for now, I think the job is his to lose, and he agrees too.

"I’ve been a starter in this league for a decade. I don’t really see that changing," he said at last week’s minicamp. "That’s being consistent, playing that position on the defensive front. That’s what I foresee."

- Chris Canty

While Canty has already obtained that coveted Super Bowl ring (with the '11 Giants), he is still hungry for more success, and he believes this team can do it.

"This team has been close in the past in terms of competing for a championship, and so I definitely feel like we’re in position to be able to put in that kind of work and give ourselves an opportunity," Canty said. "I think that if this team continues to work the way we’ve been working, continues to figure things out and put it together, we’ll have an opportunity to do that."

- Chris Canty

Canty should know well what a winning team looks like, as he's never been on a losing team in his entire 10-year NFL career.

He is signed for two more years, and will likely retire at the end of the deal. That's two more years for him to give it his all, and develop these promising young linemen. Most fans won't know it, but a large stake of the defensive line's future is in the hands of Chris Canty. I think he'll do a fine job, both on the field, and off the field, instructing these young guys how to play the position as well as he has.