On Wednesday, the Baltimore Ravens received some of the most positive injury-related news they’ve gotten in quite some time. The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec first reported that both Tyus Bowser and David Ojabo were returning to practice for the first time this season.
Then, we got to see footage of both players in action.
This is undoubtedly a welcome sight. The return of Bowser and Ojabo, both returning from torn Achilles injuries suffered just a couple months apart, has been much-anticipated. That’s especially true for Ojabo, given the second-round pick has yet to take his first NFL snap.
Ojabo’s injury occurred only seven months ago in March, so his return to the practice field this early comes as a bit of a surprise. There wasn’t a guarantee he’d suit up at all this season. Now, barring any type of setback, the talented rookie could make his debut sometime in the next several weeks.
Bowser is more likely to return to the lineup sooner. In Wednesday’s post-practice press conference, Head Coach John Harbaugh said it was “too soon” to officially rule Bowser out for this Sunday’s game in New York. That suggests Bowser should take the field for Week 7 against the Cleveland Browns, if not this week.
It’s easy to forget that Bowser, an elite coverage player at the position, was also the Ravens’ best pass-rusher in 2021. Bower’s seven sacks were a team-high and a career-best number for him, as were his 15 quarterback hits and 26 pressures.
Outside linebacker has been one of, if not the thinnest position on the Ravens’ roster this season. They went into the season with Odafe Oweh and Justin Houston as the only true edge rushers on the depth chart. Malik Harrison has taken snaps there and practice squad call-ups Steven Means and Brandon Copeland have also been activated on game days.
Houston suffered a groin injury in Week 3 and has been sidelined since. In the wake of his absence, the Ravens signed veteran Jason Pierre-Paul. “JPP” has played a lot of snaps the past two games and made a huge impact in Week 5. He had a sack and two pass deflections against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Houston may also be set to return as early as this week if not Week 7. That’s great news as well, as the trusted veteran was off to a great start through the first two games of the season. This, combined with on-the-horizon return of Bowser and Ojabo and emergence of Pierre-Paul, means the Ravens are nearing full strength at the position for the first time.
A five-man rotation of Oweh, Houston, Bowser, Pierre-Paul and Ojabo would give the Ravens a diverse, talented edge rusher group. The Ravens rank in the bottom-half of the league in most pass rush metrics so far this season, but that could quickly change moving forward.
The calvary is on the way.