OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Baltimore Ravens have a deep defensive line with several players engaged in a fierce battle to earn one of the final spots on the 53-man roster.
Brandon Williams, who signed a five-year, $54 million deal in the offseason, is clearly the leader of this group. Second-year player Michael Pierce is also evolving into a top playmaker. With those two clogging the middle, the Ravens could have one of the best run defenses in the NFL.
Defensive tackle Carl Davis has also shown much improvement after struggling last season. He is being pushed by undrafted rookie Patrick Ricard, who has been one of the biggest surprises.
Willie Henry, a second-year player from Michigan, has made plays in the backfield when given opportunities. Chris Wormley, a rookie third-round pick from Michigan, already appears ready to make an impact.
"We are really deep," Pierce said. "Even down to our undrafted guys, again. Guys like Patrick Ricard can play. He can flat-out play, and he is going to get more comfortable, and he is going to be awesome. You see what Willie and Carl can do - of course Brandon. I am proving myself every day. We have a ton of guys, and it is going to be a great preseason. We will see how it works out, but we are extremely deep and we are happy - especially our five-techniques, too. It is awesome."
Defensive line coach Joe Cullen has been impressed with the effectiveness of the unit. He said there has been little drop-off from the starters and the second team.
"I think it keeps everyone pushing each other," Cullen said. "What we don't ever want to have is 'one' and then the next guy that comes into the game is a huge drop-off. We want it to be right there. I think our guys are pushing to get to that level. Those are great problems for coach 'Harbs' and Ozzie to have."
The gaffe was quickly forgotten when Washington was flagged for illegal formation, which provided the Ravens with a first down. Three plays later, Terrance West scored from the 2.
Still, it was a rare miss for Tucker, who is the most accurate kicker in NFL history. He has even missed a few chances in training camp.
Special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg is not the least bit concerned. Rosburg said punter/holder Sam Koch, long snapper Morgan Cox and Tucker spent the offseason training in different places, so they are still getting in sync.
"They've been working really hard together to try to get back in the same tempo and the same kind of productivity that we had in 2016," Rosburg said. "I have a lot of confidence in all three of those guys, particularly in Justin. He has an excellent track record. We're happy we have him, and we trust him."