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Defensive speed shows in first pre-season game

NFL: Preseason-Carolina Panthers at Baltimore Ravens Rafael Suanes-USA TODAY Sports

While the defensive performance by the first team was rather lukewarm, positives can be taken away from the game as a whole. Fans witnessed something that had not been a feature of the defense since 2011: Tackles for loss.

Zach Orr coming downhill to stuff a run play for -4 yards was a welcome sight. Under Dean Pees, the linebackers have been tasked with reading and mirroring the opposition's back. With the faster, see-ball get-ball linebackers the Ravens now possess, proactive play against zone runs is a welcome sight.

On the first drive of the game, the run-and-chase mentality was on display as two Ravens closed quickly on a Cam Newton check down. Instead of breaking down, squaring up and losing momentum, the defenders ran through the tackle, driving the running back backwards and to the ground.

Matt Elam's blow up of a screen play on third and long also showed the newfound attacking mentality. Ravens defenders of past seasons would be seen absorbing the block to try and contain the screen. Elam simply ducked past the lineman and tripped up the ball carrier for an emphatic third down stop.

Being a great defense starts with allowing guys to run. Defenders are already a step behind by design. Having think instead of allowing insticnts to take over is putting them at a disadvantage. Negative plays - or positive, from a defenders point of view - create attitude and swagger. The Ravens seem to have recognize the importance of them.