Veteran Giving ‘Ravens’ Offensive Linemen Fits’ at Training Camp: Report

Michael Pierce

Getty A forgotten veteran has been giving Baltimore Ravens' "offensive linemen fits" at training camp.

The Baltimore Ravens are counting on second-year players like edge-rusher David Ojabo and nose tackle Travis Jones to carry their defensive front seven this season, but a forgotten veteran has been making waves at training camp.

Michael Pierce has been “disruptive,” according to Jeff Zrebiec of the Athletic. He described how the nose tackle has “given the Ravens’ offensive linemen fits. He’s clogged run lanes, got penetration on passing plays and deflected a few footballs.”

As Zrebiec noted, Pierce “was around the team facility a lot in the offseason and got himself in good shape. It’s shown.” That’s good news for a defensive lineman who “has played just 11 games over the past three seasons.”

Having Pierce in the lineup more often this season can give the Ravens a natural focal point for their three-man fronts. It would also ease the burden on Jones to make a significant leap in Year 2.

Ravens Need Veteran to Bounce Back

Pierce can give the Ravens a massive body at the heart of the trenches. The 6-foot, 340-pounder can be a magnet for double teams in the middle and free others to make the splash plays.

This type of player had long defined the Ravens’ defenses, but things changed after Pro Bowler Brandon Williams was released last offseason. Ditching Williams was a risk the Ravens felt they could take after selecting Jones in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL draft and bringing Pierce back from the Minnesota Vikings in free agency.

Unfortunately, the plan unravelled when Pierce landed on injured reserve after tearing his biceps during a road win over the New England Patriots in Week 3. He’d been performing well up to that point, showcasing surprising flexibility by dropping into coverage to help force a fumble against the New York Jets in Week 1, per “Ravens Situation Room” podcast co-host Gabe.

Showing this kind of range makes Pierce an asset in defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald’s multiple schemes. What the play-caller needs is a natural anchor for the front seven, preferably an experienced presence who can replace the leadership lost when Calais Campbell joined the Atlanta Falcons in free agency.

Pierce can be that player and underpin a young group with the potential to dominate.

New-Look Line Can Dominate

Pierce’s partnership with Jones and fourth-year pro Justin Madubuike can make the Ravens formidable defensively. Training camp has provided early and exciting glimpses of how the trio could dominate this season.

Those hints include both generating pressures on Lamar Jackson in 11-on-11 drills, according to Kyle Phoenix Barber of SB Nation’s Baltimore Beatdown.

Madubuike flashed the potential to be a force as a pass-rusher by recording 5.5 sacks and 13 pressures last season. He’ll enjoy even more opportunities to get to the passer if Pierce is creating havoc next to him.

It’s a similar story for Jones, who impressed only briefly as a rookie. The Ravens are still waiting on the former Connecticut star to put it all together, but the 6-foot-5, 335-pound D-tackle has the raw power to wreck blocking schemes more often.

Jones’ awesome base strength has caught the eye of Jonas Shaffer of The Baltimore Banner during camp.

The Ravens have lost a lot of talent up front in recent seasons, but Campbell and Williams will be more than adequately replaced if Pierce stays healthy, while Jones and Madubuike continue to improve.

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