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Ravens News 5/27: Generating Pass Rush and more

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NFL: SEP 19 Chiefs at Ravens Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Five Takeaways From The Ravens’ First OTA Workout Open To The Media - Bo Smolka

The pass rush remains a major question mark.

Tyus Bowser missed the workout as he recovers from a torn Achilles, but Odafe Oweh was on the field despite having offseason shoulder surgery. Those two led the team in sacks last year with seven and five, respectively, but no other edge defender on the current roster recorded any sacks last year. Justin Houston (4.5 sacks) remains a free agent, as does Pernell McPhee (1 sack). McPhee is said to be considering retirement.

Jaylon Ferguson missed the OTA workout, and it’s unclear whether he’s dealing with an injury. Ferguson, who arrived in Baltimore with the moniker “Sack Daddy” after breaking Terrell Suggs career NCAA record, had no sacks and six tackles in limited action last season, and this is a big offseason for him as he enters the final year of his rookie contract.

With Bowser and Ferguson missing, and with second-round draft pick David Ojabo (Achilles) likely out until November, second-year linebacker Daelin Hayes and Vince Biegel were among the most active edge rushers in the May 25 workout. It’s hard to judge pass rush in noncontact drills, but Hayes and Biegel frequently won matchups against backup tackles; presumptive starters Ronnie Stanley and Morgan Moses both missed the workout.

Hayes played sparingly in one game last season and Biegel, an inside-outside linebacker signed earlier this month, has not had a sack since 2019. Even assuming Bowser returns at 100 percent by Week 1, the onus will be on new defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald to generate a pass rush.

Ravens OLB Odafe Oweh: ‘I’m A Potential Guy’ - Todd Karpovich

“Basically, I’m just extremely raw,” Oweh said. “I’m a ‘potential’ guy, basically. So, I’m watching the film [from] last year [and] I’m like, ‘Oh, I did crazy good. I did all this stuff.’ And then you watch it now in the offseason, and I’m like, ‘There’s so much stuff you can work on.’ So, there’s a lot to build on. I’m so excited, because even next year – or even this year – it’s going to be a crazy jump. And I’m ready.”

I love Coach Mike [Macdonald] already,” Oweh said. “When I first got here, he laid it down for me and told me what he expected of me and what he wanted. He wanted me here [for OTAs] and everything. I’m buying in. I think a lot of the other guys are buying in as well. And I saw what he did with David [Ojabo], one of my friends, and everything. So, I’m cool with it man, I’m cool with him. I’m a full go. Let’s go.”

“I feel like just the knowledge of things that I didn’t know my rookie year,” Oweh said. “Things I didn’t even know I didn’t know. In the classroom, in terms of my body, being more prepared. You know I had the shoulder thing. I feel like everything else … I’m farther ahead of where I was rookie camp, [and] all that stuff. I just feel better as an athlete. And then, obviously, being a good outside linebacker, I feel good as well.”

NFL bandwagons to hop on in 2022: New Orleans Saints, Trevor Lawrence, Josh McDaniels top the list - Adam Schein

Rashod Bateman

Baltimore Ravens · WR

I love everything I’m hearing from the Ravens’ second-year receiver these days. In the wake of Baltimore trading Marquise Brown to Arizona, Bateman is suddenly the Ravens’ de facto WR1. And he’s champing at the bit to play the role.

“I feel like Baltimore drafted me for a reason. They drafted me to be in this position,” Bateman said on teammate Marlon Humphrey’s podcast. “For me, all I’ve been waiting on is the opportunity. I know what I’m capable of, I feel like the Ravens organization knows what I’m capable of. I’m just excited to go out and finally show it to the fans and especially to my teammates, for sure.”

It’s easy to forget that Bateman was hurt early in his rookie year, especially given the crazy rash of injuries that rocked Baltimore’s season. This stunted the first-round pick’s early growth, and while he still logged three games with 80-plus receiving yards, Bateman didn’t come close to fulfilling his potential. I think we get that in 2022. Bateman has the size, speed, hands and attitude you want from someone to be the go-to guy for Lamar Jackson.

6 potential AFC breakout candidates for the 2022 NFL season - Kambui Bomani

S KYLE HAMILTON, BALTIMORE RAVENS

Hamilton fell into Baltimore’s lap in the middle of the first round, most likely because his slower-than-expected 40-yard dash tanked his stock.

However, the 6-foot-4, 220-pounder has absurd length and fantastic eyes in coverage, and he is still one of the most explosive athletes in the class. He recorded 22 combined pass breakups and interceptions in his three-year college career — and only five Power Five safeties have recorded more than 15 over that span.

Hamilton was a true playmaker at Notre Dame, and he now joins a Ravens secondary that recently added safety Marcus Williams and already has Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters.

2022 NFL Safety Rankings and Tiers - Sam Monson

COVERAGE FREE SAFETY TIER:

KEVIN BYARD, TENNESSEE TITANS

ANTOINE WINFIELD JR., TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

MARCUS WILLIAMS, BALTIMORE RAVENS

JESSIE BATES III, CINCINNATI BENGALS

JUSTIN SIMMONS, DENVER BRONCOS

Coverage is king in today’s NFL, and the safety position is pivoting toward players who excel deep downfield. A few years ago, this meant Earl Thomas-type players who occupied the single-high zone in defenses playing almost exclusively Cover 3 or Cover 1. Those players still exist, but the defense most in vogue right now is the Vic Fangio tree of two-high safety looks, where free safeties are occupying either one half of the field or even just a quarter with various pattern-match responsibilities.

Marcus Williams signed a big free agent deal this offseason and has been incredibly consistent in the NFL at a position where consistently high-end play is hard to come by.