Ravens linebacker Courtney Upshaw makes his NFL debut

In his NFL debut, Ravens rookie outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw immediately got his legs chopped out from under him when he tried to penetrate the Detroit Lions' backfield.

And the former Alabama star's frustration mounted during the same play when he rose to his feet only to get knocked down again.

It was a painfully quiet NFL debut for the Ravens' top draft pick during a 27-12 defeat Friday night at M&T Bank Stadium, a game where he got manhandled at times by the Lions' offensive line.

"My first series, they got me good," Upshaw said. "I kind of felt a little slow. In the second half, I read it good and was able to stay on my feet. It's a whole lot different. These guys know what they're doing. In college, you have guys that don't know what they're doing. They can kind of do the wrong thing sometimes."

Lining up primarily at rush outside linebacker with the second-team defense, the Ravens' second-round draft pick got plenty of playing time during the first half.

However, Upshaw never pressured the quarterback and he failed to register a tackle.

"Nothing stood out that I saw," coach John Harbaugh said. "I think he played hard. It's good to get him out there. He needs to play. Here's a guy that hasn't practiced that much. He's only practiced a couple of days. So, just to have him out there playing was a good thing. We'll just see where he goes from here."

When Upshaw attempted to bull-rush Lions starting offensive tackle Gosder Cherilus, he got stonewalled. There were similar results against veteran tackle Jeff Backus.

Upshaw didn't create much of a push until the Lions inserted Jason Fox, their third-string right tackle.

"I really needed this game," said Upshaw, who was held out of the Ravens' first preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons with a sprained right shoulder. "I have been back at practice for a couple of days and I've gotten a few reps, but just being back in that game, I really needed it.

"In the second half, I felt a little better. In the first half, I was really just trying to get a feel of it. I really didn't feel myself. I really just wanted to come out and be more productive in a game."

In the second quarter, Upshaw lined up across the neutral zone and was called for an offsides penalty. That gave the Lions a first down.

Two plays later, Matthew Stafford delivered an 18-yard touchdown pass to Calvin Johnson.

"It's just being disciplined," Upshaw said. "I'm just looking at the ball, and it cost seven points. I feel bad about it because we were third-and-short and I know they batted the ball down, but there was a penalty on me. I am sure coach is going to talk about that with me when we get back to it, and it's something I'm going to take to practice."

Upshaw indicated that his shoulder injury is improving.

"It's doing better," he said. "It's not 100 percent, but it's doing a whole lot better where I can play."

Upshaw reported to camp at roughly 280 pounds and didn't pass the conditioning test on the first try. Trying trying to reach a target weight of 270 pounds, Upshaw said he's down to 274 pounds.

Upshaw is starting to move around better now that he's dropped some weight.

"With the cardio and losing the weight," Upshaw said, "it really helped me a lot."

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