The grimace on St. Louis Rams quarterback Kellen Clemens' face said it all, an obvious sign of pain dealt by rookie outside linebacker Adrian Hamilton.
Prior to being cut by the Dallas Cowboys on Friday during the final major roster cutdown and agreeing to a practice squad contract with the Ravens on Saturday, Hamilton delivered a punishing blow to Clemens in the third preseason game that separated the quarterback from the football and his helmet.
Immortalized on YouTube, video of the sack and forced fumble has garnered attention for Hamilton since joining the Ravens.
"As a pass rusher, you have to be relentless," Hamilton told The Baltimore Sun in a telephone interview from the Dallas airport Sunday afternoon. "One move might not work, so you need to try another move. You have to consistently chase the ball. I bring a fire, I'm hungry to get to the quarterback. I want to help the team in any way possible, whatever it takes."
Despite a solid preseason, Hamilton didn't stick with the Cowboys.
He battled knee and wrist injuries during training camp and fell victim to a numbers game in Dallas where DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer are entrenched as the starting outside linebackers and the Cowboys drafted Kyle Wilber in the fourth round.
The Cowboys kept linebacker Orie Lemon on the practice squad for the second year in a row, retaining linebacker Alex Albright on the active roster.
As a reserve linebacker, Hamilton didn't display much in the way of special-teams skills.
"It was crowded, definitely," Hamilton said. "It was a numbers game. I played as hard as I could."
Hamilton's forte is rushing the passer.
Hamilton broke Indianapolis Colts Pro Bowl defensive end Robert Mathis' Southwestern Athletic Conference single-season record with 20 1/2 sacks last season at Prairie View A&M.
Despite recording 81 tackles, six forced fumbles and being named a Football Championship Subdivision All-American and putting on a season-long hit parade captured in this highlight video, Hamilton went undrafted.
"I talked to the Ravens a bit before the draft, but it was nothing major," said Hamilton, a 6-foot-3, 257-pounder with 4.6 to 4.7 speed in the 40-yard dash. "I was talking to everybody whose draft board I was on. Getting overlooked was ultimately one of the reasons I left Dallas because I wasn't drafted.
"It had no strong ties for me, it is what it is. I'm a good pass rusher, and I'll keep getting better at everything. I'll regroup. I'm coming to a good situation."
The Ravens could use some assistance at pressuring the quarterback with Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs sidelined indefinitely with a partially torn Achilles tendon.
During four preseason games, the Ravens generated only six sacks and no player had more than one.
Rookie second-round outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw aggravated a right shoulder injury that has hampered him throughout training camp. He and starter Albert McClellan have one sack.
Starting outside linebacker Paul Kruger and former second-round pick Sergio Kindle produced zero sacks during the preseason.
"Watching their defense with Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, taking my talent to Baltimore was my best option," Hamilton said. "It's a great opportunity definitely. I can learn so much from guys like Ray Lewis and Terrell Sugs. I'll put in the work. This is a fresh slate for me."
A former standout at Dallas Carter, which has also produced NFL players Michael Crabtree, Jesse Armstead and Greg Hill, Hamilton signed with Oklahoma State out of high school. When Hamilton was asked to pay his own way and "greyshirt" the first semester of his freshman year, he walked on at Texas Tech.
Former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach said at a press conference in 2008 that Hamilton was dismissed from the program for violating team rules, but Hamilton disputed that version of events, saying he couldn't afford to pay his own way to school anymore.
Hamilton later enrolled at Dallas Community College, where he didn't play football, to improve his academic standing. He was eventually given a scholarship to Prairie View, where his defensive line coach was former Buffalo Bills second-round defensive end Gabe Northern.
"I just needed someone to give me a shot, and Prairie View did that," Hamilton said. "All I've ever wanted was an opportunity to play football, and now I'm getting another chance to show what I can do with the Ravens. I can't wait to get there and start practicing."
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