When the Ravens lost Paul Kruger in free agency, everyone expected 2012 second-round pick Courtney Upshaw to replace him at outside linebacker opposite Terrell Suggs.
Then Baltimore swiped Elvis Dumervil (63.5 career sacks) away from Denver.
That doesn't necessarily mean Upshaw is headed to the bench, Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees said in a radio interview.
“He'll be in competition as an outside ‘backer out there,” Pees said on 105.7 The Fan. “That's where we'll start him out. But the other thing is that you can't have too many pass rushers, and we can find a way to get them all on the field now. We can scheme up some things to get all those guys on the field.”
Upshaw (6-2, 272) could move inside as Baltimore tries to replace Dannell Ellerbe, who signed with Miami, and the retired Ray Lewis. Pees answered “you never know” when asked about Upshaw playing inside.
“The way we teach this defense, all the [linebackers] have to know all four spots … because, again, I've always told these guys that I don't want a good player standing on the sideline by me with a player out there on the field that I don't think is as good because you can't play another position. So, our guys have always learned a lot of different spots.
“We'll do that again this spring, and then we'll just make a decision after the OTAs and the minicamp and going into fall camp where everybody kind of really fits in this thing.”
Upshaw made 60 tackles in the regular season and nine in the playoffs, forcing a fumble in the Super Bowl. He graded out as Baltimore's top run defender, according to Pro Football Focus, and should be on the field for running downs at a minimum. Upshaw had just 1.5 sacks but is viewed as a promising pass rusher too.
“There's going to enough opportunities for everybody to play a lot of snaps,” Pees said. “And the more players you have, then the less plays they've got to play and the fresher they are, the better they are.”