The extreme competitiveness within NFL is not secret. Many players are naturally gifted athletes. Many are natural talents for the sport. But there are some players who’ve established themselves in the league not with their natural talent, but with their old-school and hard-nosed mentality that they demonstrate every day as professional football players.
I first heard the expression “dog” when referring to an athlete while watching a 30 for 30 about the once-promising Orlando Magic. I won’t go into too much detail, but Magic starting shooting guard Nick Anderson, who was known as a feisty, gritty, and opportunistic three-and-D defender, had a chance to win Game One of the 1995 NBA finals versus the Houston Rockets but missed four free-throws in a row (he was fouled twice). This led to a collapse in-game, and eventually, the entire series.
After the finals lost, Anderson struggled for the rest of his career and described how “I lost that dog in me.” There was no bite, he said.
To follow the description of Anderson’s self-classification as a dog, here are four Ravens that have the most biting dog in them.
4. DE/FB Patrick Ricard
Pat Ricard is one player that arguably does the most dirty work on the Ravens. The two-way player finds himself shedding blocks and stuffing runs in addition to paving the way for big run gains by Lamar Jackson, Mark Ingram, and Gus Edwards. Ricard’s 6-foot-3 303 pound frame allows him to take up plenty of space on both sides of the ball and take players out of the play, especially when blocking on offense. As to the characteristics of a dog as Anderson described, Ricard is arguably one of the grittiest players on the team. The attitude he brings to the field, in addition to his full effort and toughness during the game, makes him a dog.
3. FS Earl Thomas III
Earl Thomas may be one of the scariest players in the NFL. His knowledge of the game in addition to his deceptiveness as a ball-hawking safety gives him an advantage over others when in the game. Although Thomas’ stats during this past season may not be reminiscent of his time as a perennial All-Pro, quarterbacks nonetheless avoided his section of the field. Though Thomas may not be as physically imposing as other players in his position, he has instilled fear in quarterbacks ever since he entered the league. That was evident last season.
Thomas is the type of dog that when he bites, the consequences are serious. When Thomas jumps a route or tracks balls in the middle of the field and comes down with the interception, his superb field vision gives him a chance to take it to the house, as demonstrated multiple times in his career.
2. RB Mark Ingram
Veteran running back Mark Ingram can be argued as one of the league’s toughest runners. Even during his Heisman and National Championship-filled years at Alabama, Ingram was known as a thumper with tremendous burst. For most of the season, Ingram played at a top-ten level for his position. With three different players (Jackson, Edwards, Ingram) sharing carries, fresh legs were constant. This allowed for Ingram to consistently imposed his will on defenses.
Others could argue that Ingram should be at the top of the list of players with the most dog in them, however his late-season injury made me skeptical in regards to his future durability as a running back. However, the addition of J.K. Dobbins should help ease the pressure on Ingram. Nonetheless, Ingram is known throughout the league as a dog and has been for the entire duration of his nine year career.
1. CB Marlon Humphrey
This young stud of a cornerback has not only established himself as a top dog on the entire Ravens roster, but he has established himself as a top-five cornerback in the NFL. Humphrey showcased his ability to consistently shut down each team’s top receiver on a weekly basis. His superb speed, length, strength, and mirror ability allows him to close quickly and disrupt passes. In addition to his superior coverage abilities, Humphrey is also an excellent tackler. Even as a redshirt sophomore at Alabama, Humphrey never shied away from contact. He always welcomed it and enjoyed being the punisher.
Humphrey is a complete cornerback who makes plays when the game is on the line, especially during last season. By using his trademarked punch, he caused two forced fumbles, one of which was in overtime against the Steelers when they were nearly in field goal territory. Humphrey was a huge part of the reason why the Ravens had their historic 14-2 season. With Humphrey’s rise to stardom due to dominant play on an annual basis, he is the player that I believe has the most dog in them.
Which Raven has the most dog in them?
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