When it comes to Cleveland Browns running back Trent Richardson, no one on the Ravens knows him better than Courtney Upshaw.
That's because fellow rookie Upshaw played with him at Alabama, where they won a national championship last season.
Richardson has had two disappointing outings with the Browns when he gained only 39 and 27 yards, but he ran for 109 against the Cincinnati Bengals. The potential is there.
"You just got to wrap him up and gang tackle him. He's going to run the ball hard every snap. If he's got nothing he's going to try and get a yard or two," said Upshaw, who started for the first time at linebacker in Week 3 vs. the New England Patriots. "A tough, hard runner. Nothing more needs to be said. He's a phenomenal back."
Upshaw has struggled to get into form since injuring his shoulder in training camp. With Paul Kruger limited by a back injury, Upshaw made an impression Sunday vs. New England. The defense held the Patriots to 77 yards rushing, the first time it has held an opponent to less than 100 total rushing yards for the season.
Upshaw almost had his first sack of Tom Brady, but the Patriots quarterback fooled Upshaw.
"I missed a sack. I came wide open," Upshaw said of that 31-30 comeback win. "I wasn't expecting Brady to step out the way. Just got to execute on stuff like that."
But he made other key plays. Trailing 13-7, Upshaw wasn't fooled on an end-around play by Julian Edelman and dropped him for a 13-yard loss. That ended what appeared to be another scoring drive for the Patriots, who instead punted as the Ravens went ahead 14-13 on the next possession.
Upshaw has 14 tackles for the season and is credited with a half-sack on Michael Vick of the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 2. He's getting better physically, and it's showing on the field.
"The coaches had told me I'd be starting. It wasn't really a surprise. Honestly I just want to go out and play. It felt good. Better than what I have been," said Upshaw, who has dropped about 20 pounds since training camp. "I've just got to try and continue to get better production week in and week out to make sure I retain that starting job."