There is a lingering question: who will fill the void left by Ray Lewis? Let’s answer the easier question: who will start at middle linebacker? It is easy to point to a veteran like Daryl Smith or newly drafted Kansas State product, Arthur Brown, or even Jameel McClain pending a clean bill of health. However, I am here to fill you in on Josh Bynes from Auburn, an overlooked athlete that has the potential to be the best middle linebacker coming out of training camp.
Ozzie Newsome has been known to bring in a ringer undrafted free agent or two in the past who have made the roster. Bynes’ case is slightly different. Bynes made a good push for a roster spot in the Baltimore Ravens‘ 2011 preseason finale against the Atlanta Falcons. He managed six tackles and two sacks that game and still was released by the Ravens. Newsome signed Bynes to the practice squad midway through the season after some injuries to the starters, but he was released again after being inactive on the roster. And suffering a cracked vertebrae in the Ravens’ 2012 training camp did not help his case either.
The persistence and resilience of the former BCS champion was rewarded when once again injuries sidelined Dannell Ellerbe and Lewis. December 16th is a day that Ravens’ fans would like to forget about forever, but it was a day that Bynes will always remember; he led the defense with 13 total tackles and one pass defended. Even though the Denver Broncos clobbered the Ravens 34-17 that day, coaches recognized that Bynes is a complete player stuck behind both a legend and also a seasoned veteran on the depth chart. Bynes’ ability to run sideline-to-sideline after the ball carrier is something that hasn’t been seen since Bart Scott was in town. The victory over the San Francisco 49ers could be partially attributed to his last play effort on special teams, tackling Ted Ginn to seal the win in Super Bowl XLVII.
Bynes has been through a lot and is still standing. Recognize that although there is competition, Josh Bynes is relevant. Come this 2013 NFL season, don’t be surprised if you see him at the top of the depth chart at middle linebacker.