Ravens DE Yannick Ngakoue grew up a Steelers fan and is excited to be a part of the rivalry

The Baltimore Ravens newest pass rusher is essentially a hometown kid since Bowie, Md., where he grew up is only half an hour away from M&T Bank Stadium where the team plays their home games.

Unlike most kids that grew up in Maryland around the same time he did, Yannick Ngakoue was rooting for the wrong team in the classic Ravens-Steelers AFC North matchup and now he will face his favorite team from childhood for the first time as a Raven in his first game with the team in Week Eight.

“It’s quite ironic,” Ngakoue said in his introductory press conference. “The Ravens are a team that I definitely used to watch a lot growing up. Those guys had crazy battles as I remember being a kid watching them on TV. It was really low-scoring games, like 10-3 games. It was just a defensive battle.”

Ngakoue was acquired last Thursday via trade from the Minnesota Vikings who he was traded to back in late August. He began his career with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2016 and during his four years with the franchise, he faced the Steelers three times and stood out in two of the games.

After being limited to just one assisted tackle in the first of two meetings between the two teams in 2017, Ngakoue had a monster game in the Jaguars’ upset over the Steelers in the divisional round of the playoffs.

He helped punch their ticket to the AFC Championship during theat postseason run by logging three total tackles, a sack, two quarterback hits, a pass deflection, and a forced fumble in Jacksonville’s 45-42 win.

His third time facing Pittsburgh came in Week 11 of the 2018 season and even though the team lost 20-16, Ngakoue recorded a sack, a solo tackle for loss, and three quarterback hits.

He is looking forward to making an impact in his fourth time facing the Steelers this upcoming weekend in his first time wearing the right colors.

“I’m definitely excited about the Steelers game. I had a lot of success, personally, versus that team. And I’m pretty sure as a team, the whole defense will have a lot of success, not this weekend, but the next weekend coming up. I’m definitely, definitely super excited to be able to play my first game – my first Ravens and Steelers game.”

The Ravens have one of the best defenses in the league and the stingiest when it comes to points allowed. They are also among the league leaders in sacks and takeaways which are two areas where Ngakoue has proven to be extraordinarily proficient.

Since entering the league as a third-round pick out of the University of Maryland, he has recorded 42.5 sacks and 16 forced fumbles in 69 career games.

Ngakoue is no stranger to being a contributing member of a highly-touted top-ranked defense and knows what it takes to achieve and maintain that standard.

He was a member of the ferocious ‘Sacksonville’ in his second season in the league that resulted in him earning his first Pro Bowl nod and nearly ended with the Jaguar’s first trip to the Superbowl in franchise history.

“I already knew this was definitely a top defense. I’ve been part of a top defense before in 2017, and I know what it takes to uphold that standard,” Ngakoue said.

Ngakoue now finds himself on yet another defensive unit that is loaded with talent at all three levels and is reunited with his passing rushing running mate from his days sporting teal and black in veteran defensive end Calais Campbell. Now they both will be facing the Steelers for the first time dawning purple and black.

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