The Baltimore Ravens had a handful of their rookie class active for their commanding 23-7 win over the Denver Broncos on Sunday afternoon. All the first year players that suited up played well in all three phases but two defenders had the most impact.
Their active list included outside linebacker Odafe Oweh, offensive guard Ben Cleveland, defensive back Brandon Stephens, and wide receiver Tylan Wallace. Undrafted defensive back Ar’Darius Washington was inactive for a second straight week.
Here’s a breakdown of how the rookies fared in Week 4.
OLB Odafe Oweh
After a relatively quiet yet still solid outing against the Detroit Lions last week, the first-round rookie had a great game against the Broncos. He brought consistent and relentless pressure off the edge and was stout against the run as well. Oweh buried his lack of sack production narrative even further by notching his second of the season. He used great speed and bend to quickly get around the edge and dip underneath veteran right tackle Bobbie Massie before enveloping Denver quarterback Teddy Bridgewater for a 9-yard loss.
He also delivered the hit that knocked Bridgewater out of the game on a key third-down just before halftime. Oweh nearly had another sack in the fourth quarter on a play where he showed off his tremendous closing speed and high motor by chasing Drew Lock to the opposite sideline and wrapping him up as the ball was thrown.
OG Ben Cleveland
The third-round rookie continued to rotate with third-year pro Ben Powers at left guard and had another solid outing. On a day where the offensive line as a whole sprung quite a few leaks, especially almost every time the Broncos blitzed, he was the better pass blocker of the two.
He was called for a hold in the fourth quarter, and did allow a quick pressure on drop back in the second quarter that Lamar Jackson was able to elude and pick up seven yards on a scramble. Cleveland missed his block when he pulled on a run play that resulted in running back Latavius Murray getting tackled behind the line of scrimmage for a 2-yard loss.
Cleveland was in on the last play of the game where the Ravens were able to tie the record for most consecutive games with 100 or more yards rushing in NFL history. Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman called a designed quarterback run to the left side and the rookie was a part of the convoy of blockers that paved the way for the historic 5-yard gain.
With 3 seconds left in today's game, @Lj_era8 ran the ball for 5 yards instead of taking a knee.— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) October 4, 2021
The run extended the Ravens' streak of 100-yard rushing games to 43 straight, which ties the NFL record held by... The Steelers
(via @NFL) pic.twitter.com/9oi2h82Phs
DB Brandon Stephens
The third-round rookie saw his most extensive playing time of the season thus far as he made his first career start. Stephens performed more than admirably and better than expected in the place of regular starter DeShon Elliott who sat out with an injury that kept him out of practice all week leading up to the game.
He played downhill in run support and fared much better in coverage than what he showed over the first three weeks of the season where he looked utterly lost at times. Stephens allowed one reception for 11 yards to pick up a first down and was picked on the well-designed and executed rub route that resulted in the Broncos’ only points of the game via a 3-yard touchdown to tight end Noah Fant from Bridgewater.
WR Tylan Wallace
The fourth round rookie continued to make his presence felt as a staple on special teams. He was particularly impactful on both coverage units and even made a solo tackle on a punt in the first quarter. Wallace didn’t take any snaps on offense again but when he wasn’t the one to make the tackle on special teams, he was still often the first man down the field and would herd the returner into the arms of one of his teammates.