Ravens rookie defensive lineman Carl Davis was all smiles after a preseason opener – and NFL preseason debut -- that was grueling by preseason opener standards but also quite impressive.
In the Ravens preseason-opening 30-27 win over the Saints, Davis started at defensive tackle and was still in the game in the fourth quarter, a workload rarely seen in Week 1 of the preseason.
But with four Ravens defensive linemen – Chris Canty, DeAngelo Tyson, Timmy Jernigan and Brent Urban (torn biceps) not dressing for the game, the six who did dress had to pick up the slack. And Davis was up to the task.
Davis, a rookie third-round pick out of Iowa, officially finished with three tackles, a quarterback hit and a pass defensed, and he spent a lot of time in the Saints backfield.
“Coach Brooks told me I was going to play a lot this week,” Davis said. ”I’ve been getting a lot of practice reps also. The whole defensive line has helped me get prepared … I was kind of expecting to play this much and I just did my best.”
Davis, 6-foot-5 and 320 pounds, is listed as the backup to nose tackle Brandon Williams. But he started alongside Williams with Jernigan out. His ability to play multiple spots along the Ravens defensive front was one of the reasons the valued him in the draft.
““There were a couple of things where he didn’t hold his rush lanes … but other than that, against the basic run stuff, he was very active,” Harbaugh said. “Good hands, good feet, he penetrated the rushing lanes.”
Davis acknowledged that the speed of the NFL game is “definitely a lot faster” than college ball but he said, “Coach Harbaugh has us practicing at a high tempo. … We practice it ,and it’s just like the game.”
Davis finally left the game early in the fourth quarter when he cramped up.
“He played a bunch of snaps, played ‘em all hard, I believe, we’ll see on the tape, basically played ‘em until he cramped up and we finally dragged him off the field,” Harbaugh said.
By then, Davis had earned a breather with an impressive debut.