OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale fully expected the Cleveland Browns to target rookie linebacker Patrick Queen in the season-opener.
Queen had not played any preseason games and perhaps it would take some time to adjust to the speed of the NFL.
The Browns did test Queen ... and they paid a hefty price.
Queen, a first-round pick from LSU, earned his first career sack in the second quarter and forced a fumble late in the third quarter that set up J.K. Dobbins' second touchdown run. Queen also finished with a team-high eight tackles.
It was an all-around impressive performance.
"He did a good job with his run-fits," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "He was downhill. I thought he showed his explosive speed a couple times, where he went and made some plays. But generally speaking, [he was] just very solid in terms of the basics; the run-fits, the angles he took, the zone-drops, the way he related the routes, the patience he showed there.
"He didn’t panic at all. I felt like that was the best thing about it as a start. And again, he should only improve from here.”
Entering the season, Harbaugh envisioned Queen staying on the field for all three downs. Queen led all of the linebackers, playing 54 snaps in the opener.
Despite the solid performance, Queen sees plenty of room for improvement.
"Everything in my game," he replied when asked where he needs to get better. "Just technique, pad level, hands, coming downhill, not getting stiff-armed like I got on the last drive. There is a lot of stuff to clean up, and that’s what you come in the next day and get better at watching film, and then you’ve got to practice.”
Queen emerged as one of LSU’s top defenders in 2019 and played the best football of his college career down the stretch, earning defensive MVP honors in the Tigers' win over Clemson in the national championship game.
Last season, he was a regular starter for the first time as a junior and finished with 85 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, and three sacks. That performance was good enough for him to forgo his senior season and emerge as a first-round prospect in the draft.
The Ravens when Queen fell to them with the 28th overall pick.
"I felt pretty comfortable," Queen said. "Coming in, Day One, the guys greeted me and treated me as family from the jump. Even before I got here, a lot of people reached out, so I felt very comfortable going into this game. Coaches prepared me the best way they could, trainers, even the head guys came and talked to me some. I just felt like I was at home.”