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Patrick Queen is more comfortable and playing “two steps faster” in the Ravens defense

The second-year linebacker showed off the areas of growth he improved on this offseason in his preseason debut.

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Baltimore Ravens Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Ravens had several of their young defenders churn out impressive performances against the New Orleans Saints in a 17-14 preseason win. Perhaps the brightest defensive star of the night, even more than safety Geno Stone who corralled two interceptions, was inside linebacker Patrick Queen who made several splash plays.

“He was a rocket going to get that, and that’s how you expect him to play,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said.

Even though he didn’t receive an entire half’s worth of work, the 2020 first-round pick flashed the areas of improvement in his game that he vowed to make this offseason. Queen said he feels like he’s playing “two steps faster” thanks to the dedication devoted to refining his craft through film study.

“[I felt] way more comfortable. I could just feel it,” Queen said. “Just way more relaxed [and] way more anxious for the play to happen. It was a lot of hard work that I put into it, so I’m happy.”

Queen showed both his increased play speed and a better feel for the passing game on the same drive where he made back-to-back plays behind the line of scrimmage.

The first came when he snuffed out a developing screen on second down where he brought down the running back for a three-yard loss immediately after catching the ball and before his blockers could get more than a couple of yards downfield.

The second came on a third-down blitz where he shed the block of former Ravens offensive tackle James Hurst and closed quickly on a scrambling Taysom Hill to bring him down for a drive-ending sack.

Queen knows that there is a lot of high expectations on his shoulders heading into his second season and is trying his best to “live up to them” with his play on the field. While many players like to block out their doubters and detractors, he takes and uses their criticisms constructively.

“I’m a person that likes to read what the critics say. I took to what they said, and I just went to work on it. I tried to get better, and I feel like I have a lot,” said Queen.

“If a critic says something, obviously they see something that I don’t see, or they’re pointing out something that needs to be pointed out. So, I like to read that stuff, [and] I like to take it as fuel. I remember at LSU, when I was getting criticized, I put it as my screensaver for a little while. It’s just something I like. ”

One of the most attractive attributes about Queen coming out of college was his incredible speed and the fact that his ability to play fast and physically would offset some of the lack of experience. He was able to get plenty of experience as a rookie, starting in all 16 regular-season games as well as both playoff games.

His speed and physicality help him make several splash plays and lead the team in tackles. However, it also got him out of position at times on some plays where he was trying to make a play as fast as he could instead of letting it come to him.

“When you’re young, you kind of rush things, and you kind of stress. Just going through last season, I felt like I was pressing too hard sometimes, and it was just making me make mistakes,” said Queen. “Going through that whole year and just having time off and realizing all that stuff, it’s so much simpler now. It’s so much more relaxed [and] just focused one play at a time, one day at a time, whatever it may be.”

The Ravens and their fans are hoping that Queen can take a similar leap in year two that his friend and former LSU teammate Devin White took last season when he helped propel the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during their run to Superbowl 55 (LV). White reached out to Queen during and following his rookie season to talk to him about how to slow his game down going forward.

“After the season, he called me again and sat me down and told me. It kind of clicked then. My dad always told me the same thing, too. So, when I heard it from two people that I know really care about me, it clicked.”

If the limited snapshot he showed on Saturday is any indication of what is to come, it has indeed started to click for Queen. He appears to have improved his coverage ability, play recognition, and overall feel for the game heading into a 2021 season where he is poised to break out in a big way.