Un­drafted line­backer Orr ready to start for Ravens

Cecil Whig - - RAVENS - By SEAN GRO­GAN

sgro­gan@ce­cil­whig.com

— The Bal­ti­more Ravens have an un­com­mon knack for de­vel­op­ing un­drafted lineback­ers into starters.

Bart Scott, Dan­nell Ellerbe and Jameel McClain all signed with Bal­ti­more af­ter their names were not called on draft day. Each turned into a starter.

In his third year since go­ing un­drafted out of North Texas in the 2014 NFL Draft, Zach Orr is on track to add his name to that list this sea­son.

One of the big­gest ques­tions en­ter­ing train­ing camp was who would start at in­side line­backer next to Pro Bowler CJ Mosley. Orr started at the WILL line­backer spot in Satur­day’s preseason opener against the Carolina Pan­thers ahead of rookie Ka­malei Cor­rea and showed no in­ten­tion of let­ting go of the top spot.

“We started with Zach [Orr]. Zach has had a re­ally good camp, and you can see that. He has been all over the place,” lineback­ers coach Don Martin­dale said Satur­day. “It is one of those things that I’m not ready to say yet, and ob­vi­ously ‘Harbs’ [John Har­baugh] has the fi­nal say on it. Right now, I guess, in the com­pe­ti­tion, [Orr] is in the lead. I was re­ally proud

OWINGS MILLS

of the way Zach played against Carolina.”

Orr un­der­stands how rare Bal­ti­more’s suc­cess at sign­ing un­drafted lineback­ers is. He does not take it lightly.

“It would show that the coaches and or­ga­ni­za­tion have faith in me. That’s the ut­most re­spect you can have is get­ting re­spect from your coaches and your team­mates. It would mean a lot. It’s some­thing I’ve worked for these past three years,” Orr said of win­ning the start­ing job. “One of the first things, when I first met coach ‘Wink,’ [Martin­dale] he said, ‘Know the history here. We have a history in this room as lineback­ers with un­drafted guys.’

“He pretty much asked me, ‘What are you go­ing to do about it?’ He’s chal­lenged me ev­ery day since I’ve been here … Am I go­ing to be the next one? I’m striv­ing for it each and ev­ery day.”

The de­par­ture of veteran Daryl Smith fol­low­ing the 2015 sea­son opened the spot for com­pe­ti­tion. Orr made eight tack­les as a rookie and 22 in year two. He recorded his first sack last sea­son.

“[He] just keeps get­ting bet­ter ev­ery year. He gets bet­ter ev­ery prac­tice. The wis­dom is in the results and the results are how he played,” Har­baugh said. “Ev­ery­body saw it. He played re­ally well.”

Orr said Satur­day that his big­gest im­prove­ments have come off the field. He has learned from lineback­ers such as Elvis Dumervil how to not just watch film, but study it. Orr has be­come a stu­dent of the game, learn­ing how to read of­fen­sive for­ma­tions and even in­di­vid­u­als’ stances.

Martin­dale agreed that the men­tal part of foot­ball is Orr’s great­est strength. His smarts help him over­come his smaller size (6’0”, 225 pounds).

“Some­one says, ‘They are hun­gry.’ He is starv­ing. The men­tal part of it is one of his strong­est as­sets. The game is in slow mo­tion to him; he is in­stinc­tive. He knows a lot of plays be­fore the of­fense even knows that they are go­ing to run it. You can see that re­ac­tion that he is play­ing faster than ev­ery­body else,” Martin­dale said. “I think ini­tially, it was just the size of him. I think that was the ini­tial thing of maybe why he didn’t get drafted. I’m glad he didn’t. I’m glad we got him.”

Orr is not the only un­drafted line­backer vy­ing for a start­ing role with the Ravens. Al­bert McClellan is en­ter­ing year seven with Bal­ti­more since go­ing un­drafted out of Mar­shall in the 2010 NFL Draft. The long-time spe­cial teams ace ap­pears on track to re­place the de­parted Court­ney Up­shaw as the SAM line­backer.

“The mind­set of the ma­jor­ity of the un­drafted guys is, ‘You are the first one in; you are the last one out,’” McClellan said. “You should al­ways carry a chip on your shoul­der. You should al­ways walk around like you can be re­placed, so you need to show your true ver­sa­til­ity and your true value to the team – show your char­ac­ter and give them a rea­son to want you here.”

McClellan’s mes­sage and ex­pe­ri­ence has not gone un­no­ticed by Orr.

“It def­i­nitely gave me an edge,” Orr said. “You have a guy like Al­bert McClellan who is go­ing into Year Seven. He is as mo­ti­vated as ever, and he’s been in the league for seven years. One thing he al­ways told me, ‘You’ll al­ways be un­drafted. No mat­ter what you do in this league, that will al­ways fol­low you. You never get away from it.’

“It’s def­i­nitely some­thing that has mo­ti­vated me and that will con­tinue to mo­ti­vate me no mat­ter what.”

Fol­low Sean Gro­gan on Twit­ter: @Sean_Ce­cilWhig

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY SEAN GRO­GAN

Ravens line­backer Zach Orr is on track to win a start­ing job on Bal­ti­more’s de­fense.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.