In Baltimore’s 3-4 defensive scheme, one inside linebacker spot automatically goes to future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis. There's no question about that, nor should there be. But the other ILB position will be one of the open spots when training camp gets under way. As detailed in this Baltimore Sun story, the two who most likely will battle to see who lines up next to Lewis will be Dannell Ellerbe and Tavares Gooden.
Gooden, drafted by the Ravens in the third round of 2008 Draft, started 12 games last season and recorded 52 tackles. But Ellerbe – who was undrafted coming out of the University of Georgia – took over for an injured Gooden in the final few games, including the playoffs, and he’s continued to work with the first team during offseason practices.
Ellerbe seems to be a bit better at stopping the run and he’s a hard tackler, while Gooden is better in pass coverage.
Of course, it might not be a bad idea for the coaching staff to use them as platoon players.
"We may use them situationally," linebackers coach Dean Pees told the Sun. "If somebody doesn't just clearly win the battle and say 'OK, I'm clearly better than the rest of them,' that's OK. Then [we'll] try to utilize your talents. [If] one guy's a little better coverage guy, maybe he'll be a third-down linebacker. Maybe another guy's a good run stopper, he might be a first-down linebacker."
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