Ravens Rookie: Training Camp Was ‘Hardest 6 Weeks of My Life’

Ravens Daelin Hayes

Getty Outside linebacker Daelin Hayes pursues quarterback Trevor Lawrence during a 2018 contest between Notre Dame and Clemson.

Baltimore Ravens rookie outside linebacker Daelin Hayes didn’t mince words when answering a question about his experience during his first NFL training camp.

“That was the hardest six weeks of my life. I’ll just keep it real with y’all,” said the Notre Dame product with a chuckle.

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Sporting a chain and a t-shirt from his alma mater, Hayes spoke to media after Thursday’s practice about his time with the Ravens since being drafted in the fifth round in May.

“This was my childhood favorite team,” said Hayes, “it means everything to me to be out here with the vets, to be out here with the coaches.”

Hayes has taken full advantage of the decades of experience in the Ravens outside linebacker room, including veterans Justin Houston and Pernell McPhee and OLB coach Drew Wilkins.

“I’m in class with eight of the best professors at football,” said Hayes, including Wilkins, who he called “one of the most brilliant football minds I’ve ever been around.”

Hayes Primed for a Strong Rookie Season

The Ravens drafted Hayes for the versatility he showed at Notre Dame, where he dropped into coverage, set the edge against the run, and pressured the quarterback.

But Hayes knows that he’ll have to take his game to the next level to succeed in the NFL, focusing on improving his coverage and pass rush skills in the preseason.

He’s taken cues from Tyus Bowser, who he considers the best OLB dropping into coverage in the league, and Justin Houston, who arrived in Baltimore this August with 97.5 career sacks to his name.

The results are already showing for Hayes, who made a number of highlight plays in the preseason, showing off his bend and flexibility to get to the quarterback.

When asked about his ‘dip’ move, Hayes responded, “This offseason I was really able to refine a couple moves that I could really utilize to make me more effective than I was in college. That move is just a culmination of so much hard work and dedication this offseason.”

He’s already started to earn the respect of the Ravens’ veterans after making the 53-man roster, which he called a “dream come true.”

The impact of his accomplishment fully set in when Hayes had a conversation with longtime team leader Anthony Levine Sr. and said “‘I guess y’all don’t do that on the Ravens,'” to which Levine responded, “‘Nah bro, we don’t do that, you’re a Raven.'”

“At that moment, hearing that from a vet, it was surreal to be a part of this brotherhood,” continued Hayes.

He’s also impressed veteran offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva, who praised Hayes’ “unbelievable motor,” adding “the play seems to be over, and it’s never over for him.”

Hayes will look to carry his strong training camp into the regular season for the Ravens’ Week 1 matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders.

Ravens Re-Sign Pernell McPhee

Hayes will continue to learn from McPhee this season, as the veteran re-signed with the Ravens on Thursday.

Former Ravens wideout Torrey Smith, who won Super Bowl XLVII with McPhee, responded to the team’s announcement on Twitter.

McPhee was released on Tuesday as part of the Ravens’ 53-man roster cuts, but was widely expected to re-join the team after they moved players to the injured reserve list.

Once Miles Boykin and Rashod Bateman were placed on IR, McPhee’s re-signing became a formality, as he has been a steady contributor to the Ravens’ defense during both of his stints in Baltimore. He first arrived as a fifth-round draft pick, making multiple key plays in the Ravens’ Super Bowl run during his sophomore season.

McPhee signed with the Chicago Bears after his rookie contract expired, but injuries cut his tenure in the Windy City short. The Mississippi State product eventually returned to Baltimore in 2019, but a triceps injury ended his season in October.

He recorded 26 tackles and 19 pressures in 15 games for the Ravens last season, earning a 78.7 run defense grade from Pro Football Focus, good for 11th-best among all edge defenders.

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