Each week, Paul Kruger raises the ante.
The fourth-year linebacker is becoming increasingly difficult to keep off of quarterbacks.
Kruger, who was slowed by a back injury that took him out of the starting lineup by Week 2, has had at least a sack in three consecutive games.
He has already equaled his total from last season with 5.5, has defensed 5 passes and had his first interception since his rookie year.
“I think part of it, too, is what we have done schematically is change some of our packages and … put guys in roles that we think they can flourish in and also sometimes take a little bit off of their plate in terms of having to know so many different things,” defensive coordinator Dean Pees said when asked about Kruger's success. “He’s accepted that role very, very well and really done a good job with it.”
Kruger effectively replaced Jarret Johnson, who left as a free agent for the San Diego Chargers during the offseason.
Safety Bernard Pollard compares him to Jared Allen, an All-Pro linebacker for the Minnesota Vikings who can rush and drop in coverage like Kruger.
“He’s set this defense up. He’s done tremendous things,” Pollard said of Kruger, who usually lines up on the same side as the tight end. “We’ve cycled guys in and out of that position. …
“(He’s) white lightning. He’s able to shake you. He can use the bull rush. … He reminds me a lot of Jared Allen. I was in Kansas City with Jared. Bigger body than Kruger but very similar with the hands, with the feet, very smart players.”
Kruger will be a free agent after this season, and based on his play the Ravens might not be able to afford him.
“He’s setting himself up for his future…. I think he really has a good shot at breaking the bank,” Pollard said. “Our team, we want pass rushers.”