The Pittsburgh Steelers have had a lot less success in recent years in uncovering quality players among college free agents than they should, and than many other teams have. Among those who have done a much better job of finding contributors among this class of players is the Baltimore Ravens.
One of their best finds in recent years, however, is a bit rotund at the moment. Restricted free agent defensive tackle Michael Pierce skipped OTAs, in spite of the fact that he signed his tender, given at the second-round level.
He reported to mandatory minicamp, but showed up overweight, to such an extent that the coaching staff pulled him from practice for his own good. Said defensive coordinator Don Martindale, “of course you’re disappointed. What I told him, I said it in front of the whole defense: life is about choices. Just don’t make that choice make your life”.
Pierce became an immediate contributor the Ravens’ defense as a rookie in 2016 along with Brandon Williams, recording 35 tackles and two sacks that year. The following season, he started 13 games, recording 49 tackles and a sack. His role was a bit more limited in 2018, and he also missed some games, but still put up 32 tackles.
Listed at 6’0”, 340 pounds, Pierce is a big man, for sure, but often plays more of a defensive end role, since they already have a Pro Bowler and high-paid man in the middle in Williams. He will be an essential part of their front seven this year.
Of course, he’ll have to get his weight down and keep himself under control. Evidently not every player is fit to be left to their own devices. Without the benefit of participation in OTAs, he allowed himself to get out of shape, to the point that he had to be held out of working in minicamp.
“We piled on [him] enough yesterday”, however, Martindale said. “Let’s don’t forget what a great football player he is. He’ll get back there. I can’t tell you when, but he’ll get back there”.
It probably won’t be for a while, though, as the Ravens wrap up minicamp today, and I wouldn’t get money on him suddenly being in good enough shape to participate after he was held out for that reason for the past two days.