Bronson Kaufusi goes from campaign trail to a run for starting job

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- John Harbaugh says he's never seen a harder worker than Bronson Kaufusi, which explains what the Baltimore Ravens defensive end did during his supposed down time.

In the weeks leading up to training camp, Kaufusi trained in the morning and campaigned for his mother -- putting up signs, handing out fliers and knocking on doors to try to help his mother become the first female mayor of Provo, Utah. (Michelle Kaufusi, who has served on the Provo school board, is one of nine candidates in a crowded race. The primary elections are done by mail, and ballots are due next week.)

"It was a great experience," Bronson Kaufusi said. "I had a lot of fun doing it."

Does he have any political aspirations after football?

"Well, you never know," he said with a chuckle. "Sometimes, you just fall into things."

These days, Kaufusi is focused on winning a starting job, not political office. A third-round pick a year ago, Kaufusi suffered a season-ending ankle injury early in training camp last year. Harbaugh mentioned that an injury like this happens for a reason and it would allow Kaufusi to work on his body to become "a mature NFL football player physically."

A year later, Harbaugh has been impressed with how Kaufusi looks.

"He's put an amazing amount of work in, in the weight room, in conditioning -- the whole thing," Harbaugh said. "I've never seen a guy work harder. He's an A-plus-plus worker, and it showed up in the way he walks around and carries himself, his strength. He still has things to work on for sure; he's still a young guy. He's physically ready to go."

A hulking presence at 6-foot-6 and 285 pounds, Kaufusi is a candidate to be a starter this season. He's currently running behind Brent Urban as Baltimore looks to replace Lawrence Guy at defensive end.

"He has a great motor; we knew that when we drafted him," defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. "That was the one thing that just stood out on film was that he just played hard all the time. You see it now, and I think the more he gets comfortable, the more he is going to put pressure on other people to play."

Kaufusi has the size to stop the run and pass-rushing ability to make an impact on passing downs. He made 11 sacks his senior year at BYU and totaled 26.5 over his career.

The No. 70 overall pick Baltimore used on Kaufusi was highly regarded. This third-rounder was the one they could've traded to the Dallas Cowboys to move up to take cornerback Jalen Ramsey in the first round. But Baltimore would only part with a fourth-round pick, and Dallas decided to stay at No. 4 overall. The Ravens eventually selected offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley at No. 6 and drafted Kaufusi two rounds later.

It's an investment that soon could pay dividends.

"I feel like I'm making steps to forward my game every single day," Kaufusi said. "As the season goes on, I know I'll keep climbing. I really feel like my football is yet to come. We'll just keep working towards it."