The Baltimore Ravens are an organization that has understood the importance of quality linebacker play from the very beginning, embarking on the start of their franchise with Ray Lewis. Following Peter Boulware and C.J. Mosley, they made Patrick Queen their fourth inside linebacker taken in the first round in their history last year during the 2020 NFL Draft.
He’s ready to make his mark, even though he already got off to a strong start, starting every game last season and finishing with 106 tackles, three sacks, an interception, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and a defensive touchdown.
Yet he sees the night-and-day difference in himself, and it showed in the Ravens’ preseason debut last night. After the game, he talked about the fact that he feels much more comfortable than he did last season, though that really shouldn’t be a surprise given the conditions under which the 2020 season was played.
“Way more comfortable”, than last season, he told reporters during his post-game remarks, which followed a Ravens last-minute victory. “I could just feel it. Just way more relaxed, way more anxious for the play to happen. It was a lot of hard work that I put into it, so I’m happy”.
Queen himself finished the game with four tackles, including a 12-yard sack, in addition to another tackle for loss, finishing tied for second on the team in tackles for the night, though obviously, he did not play as extensively as he likely will next week.
“I feel like I’m going two steps faster now”, he said regarding the ‘second-year jump’ that we hear so much about, especially from Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. “It’s just a lot of film work, a lot of dedication to the craft and to the sport. So, I feel way better”.
Baltimore’s other inside linebacker draft pick last year, Malik Harrison, forced the late-game fumble that helped lead to their victory, and they figure to be in the starting lineup together as a young duo who can play together for a long time.
“It’s going to be a great season” for the two, he said. “Malik is my guy. We’re always talking. We’re always communicating on the field. So, I know what type of player he is, I know what type of player he can be. He expects the same out of me, so it’s going to be a nice season for us two”.
Hopefully not too nice, of course. At least for two weeks out of the season, possibly three.