Josh Bynes battles way up depth chart

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- When it comes to battling for your football livelihood, no one has more determination than Baltimore Ravens inside linebacker Josh Bynes.

After all, it was only two years ago when he broke his back and played the same year. So, it doesn't come as a surprise that Bynes has fought his way up the Ravens' depth chart, becoming the top backup at the inside linebacker position.

"We talked about him early on in camp [and used] him as an example to some guys – the fact that the guy comes in here as an undrafted free agent, gets a chance to play, then gets hurt and fights back from that," defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. "That right there alone ought to tell you [enough] about the kid."

After starting six games last season, Bynes had been relegated to the second team throughout the offseason and for most of the first week of training camp. C.J. Mosley, a first-round pick this year, and Arthur Brown, a second-rounder from last year, had taken turns working alongside Daryl Smith with the first-team defense.

But, with Smith sitting out this week with a groin injury, it was Bynes who was promoted to the starting defense to run with Mosley.

"It shows good confidence in me," Bynes said. "I was a starter last year. I started a few games the year before. It's just another day at work. It's another day to get better."

Bynes was a three-year starter for Auburn and was the defensive captain for the national championship team in 2011. After he went undrafted, the Ravens pursued him because they felt he could follow the likes of other undrafted linebackers who ended up starting for them (Bart Scott, Jameel McClain and Dannell Ellerbe).

Even though Bynes has made nine starts in his career, he still has the mentality of that undrafted rookie.

"As an undrafted guy, you have to overcome the battle each and every year," Bynes said. "The one minute you think it's all good, the next thing you know is you're out of here. I don't ever want to get complacent."

Bynes savors every moment on the football field, especially after what he endured in his second NFL season. Early in training camp, he took an awkward hit to his back and couldn't turn his body to either side.

The broken back, however, wouldn't end his career. In fact, it didn't end his season. Five months after the injury, he was making his first NFL start, replacing an injured Ray Lewis.

Bynes said he's had no problems with the back since the injury.

"It doesn't limit me at all. I don't even think about it," he said. "When I first came back, I was a little hesitant because it's a traumatic injury. Then, I was like, 'I'm going to play on Sunday.' Later that year, I ended up starting and we won the Super Bowl."

Bynes is among the most high-energy players for the Ravens. It seems like he's always practicing at a higher gear than everyone else, which Bynes attributes to the mentality of having to prove yourself every day.

"Guys that think maybe they don’t have a chance because they went undrafted," Pees said. "That doesn’t mean anything. If you give the effort, both on and off the field -- mentally, I’m talking about knowing what’s going on [on the field] -- you have a chance. That’s why [he’s] been able to play. I have no qualms when he goes in the game about how we’re going to play.”