Much has been made about the losses that the Baltimore Ravens suffered in the front seven of their defense, particularly on the edge where Pro Bowlers Matt Judon and Yannick Ngakoue departed in free agency.
However, the most significant addition to the unit overall is the return of stud nickelback Tavon Young from his third season-ending knee injury.
Young is coming off back-to-back injuries that have limited him to just two games over the last two years, all of which came in the first two weeks of last season. He returned to the field for the first time during Mandatory Minicamp and his teammates in secondary are thrilled to have him back in action.
“I’m happy to have him back. I can move back outside,” All-Pro corner Marlon Humphrey said last week. “Me and ‘P’ [Marcus Peters], Jimmy [Smith] and Tavon – that’s a pretty strong four. So, I’m really excited to have him back. I know what he can do on the field, so him getting healthy, him being back out there, it’s great.”
The Ravens were still able to field arguably the best secondary in the league during Young’s absence over the last two seasons thanks to Humphrey. His positional versatility to be able to dominate in the slot as well as on the outside is a tremendous asset and has earned him two straight Pro Bowl bids. They were also fortunate to have good depth in the form of Smith and Anthony Averett but are excited for the schematic flexibility that his return will give them.
“When we’ve got ‘Tay’ out there, we can do so many different things, and we’ve got so many different elements,” safety Chuck Clark said. “A lot of guys can fill in in different spots, and he just brings a different element to us. So, not having him out there last year, kind of sucked, for real. But having him back out here in training camp – his personality, his character – we love having him back right now.”
Defensive Coordinator Don ‘Wink’ Martindale said that Young’s return from his latest injury is a “testament to how tough he is” and echoed Clark’s sentiments about how it will give his unit more flexibility in the backend.
“What he’s done the last two years, it’s unbelievable that he comes in, he hasn’t skipped a bit,” said Martindale. “I haven’t just sat and stared specifically at him and what he does, but it’s amazing how far he’s come back from all the different injuries. And they’re freak injuries.”
“It’s one of the toughest things to do as a player – is to sit there and rehab while your teammates are playing. And he’s done that, and he’s ready to go.”