As Elvis Dumervil gets used to his new No. 58 Ravens jersey, his new teammates and his new surroundings at the Under Armour Performance Center in Owings Mills, he has at least one familiar face to help his transition: the coach who helped Dumervil blossom into one of the league's best pass rushers.
Ravens inside linebackers coach Don "Wink" Martindale spent two years in Denver, as linebackers coach in 2009, and as defensive coordinator in 2010, before joining the Ravens last year.
Working under Martindale in 2009, Dumervil recorded a league-high 17 sacks. So it was fitting that when Dumervil was introduced to the Baltimore media on Tuesday after passing his physical and officially signing his contract to become a Raven, Martindale was by his side at the news conference.
" Obviously, Elvis and I got really close back in Denver, not just because of the player that he is – although that helps when he is sacking the quarterback – but also as a person," Martindale said. "I am happy for both the Ravens and Elvis because of what a class organization this is, what a great city it is."
Dumervil, was a fourth-round draft pick out of Louisville, a standout defensive end whose undersized frame for that position gave scouts pause. He's listed as 5-foot-11, 260 pounds by the Ravens, though Martindale joked that Dumervil is, "6 foot, all right? We’ve had that argument for years. Six foot."
On Tuesday, Dumervil credited Martindale with helping him make the transition from defensive end to outside linebacker, where he has thrived in the NFL, with three Pro Bowl selections and an average of more than 10 sacks per season.
" He helped me a lot in a really adverse situation, moving from defensive end to outside linebacker," Dumervil said of Martindale, "and he made that transition very smooth, and I learned a lot and soaked it up like a sponge."
Dumervil also credited Martindale with helping sell the Ravens to their newest linebacker, saying they had spoken throughout the free agency process, which began with that faulty fax machine, prompting the Broncos to release him rather than guarantee his $12 million salary for 2013.
Martindale said he is excited about being reunited with Dumervil and what he adds to the Ravens defense.
"There’s no task too big for him," Martindale said. "Whatever you need him to do, he’s going to do it. The thing that jumped out to me the most from our time in Denver. ... When you needed a big play … Elvis always seemed like the guy that made the play.
"When Elvis came out from Louisville," Martindale added, "he said, ‘I’m the best pass rusher in the draft.’ And all he’s done, year in and year out, is he’s tried to be the best pass rusher. Not to take away from any of the other great pass rushers in this league, but his numbers show you he’s been really successful.”