In the early stages of what’s being deemed “football school,” a mixture of young talent and a sprinkling of veterans participate in the earliest stages of offseason workouts. Among the veterans is defensive tackle Michael Pierce.
Pierce, 30, signed with the Ravens last season to a three-year, $16.5 million deal as the Ravens attempted to bolster their pass rush after a deal with outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith fell apart. But four weeks into the season, Pierce suffered a torn biceps injury against the New England Patriots and was placed on season-ending injured reserve. Now, fully healthy, he’s returned and involved in the early stages of team workouts, and Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald is appreciating the veterans attendance.
“You saw the start that [Pierce] was off to last year so it was disappointing to lose him,” Macdonald said. “Having Mike back in the middle of the defense will definitely be a big point of contention for us moving forward. I’m excited to see what he does.”
The start Macdonald’s referring to was significant, as Pierce was the No. 7 ranked defensive lineman by PFF, directly behind Los Angeles Rams defensive star Aaron Donald through the four games he played. His overall grade sat at 86.9, and he graded above a 70 in run defense, tackling, pass rush and coverage.
Now, with defensive end Calais Campbell joining the Atlanta Falcons, Macdonald sees Pierce as a person to help subside the loss of one of the NFL’s most unique defensive players.
“Just having another vet guy that’s done it at a a high level, of course that’s going to help us,” Macdonald said. “[He has a] different skillset, but I think Michael Pierce is an underrated interior rusher, too. When the time comes, I think you’ll see what he can do in pass downs as well.”