David Ojabo has moved on from last season, completely healthy and determined to make the impact he couldn't as a rookie.
The torn Achilles that Ojabo suffered last March at his Michigan Pro Day virtually wiped out his rookie season. The outside linebacker saw significant action in just one game, the regular-season finale against the Bengals when his strip sack of Joe Burrow flashed his potential to become an impact pass rusher.
"It kind of made me feel like I belong, got me more excited for this season," Ojabo said. "I've never been injured before. I've never had to just sit down. It tested my patience, but it was definitely for the better. I'm back 110 percent."
Ojabo isn't dwelling on the past as the Ravens continue Football School activities this week. He's looking toward the future and has clearly been working hard this offseason. His upper body is noticeably bigger and he appears to be in excellent condition carrying more weight.
"Probably a solid five-10 pounds of muscle," Ojabo said.
As for his Achilles injury, Ojabo said he's not thinking about it.
"Honestly I'm tired of hearing about it," he said. "It's in my past, I've grown from it. It's made me stronger. I'm ready to move on from it. I'm 110%. I honestly feel better. I feel more explosive. I'm excited."
The Ravens are looking for Ojabo and Odafe Oweh to raise their games, two athletic outside linebackers who have been friends since they were high school teammates at Blair (N.J.) Academy. Ojabo and Oweh have been working out together and they push each other in a positive way. Oweh was a first-round pick in 2021, and Ojabo would have been a first-round pick in 2022if not for his injury.
Ojabo's talent is obvious, but he's not burdened by expectations.
"It's never pressure, man. It's what we do," Ojabo said. "I'm just excited to be out there with my brothers and play football. The playbook's never been a problem. (I'm) getting better day by day. "
Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald coached Ojabo for a year at Michigan, when he had a monster season with 11 sacks that elevated his draft stock. Macdonald was elated when the Ravens drafted Ojabo and likes the way he handled last year's adversity.
"I was actually talking to somebody out there today, he looks great," Macdonald said. "I feel like he's put on some good weight and looks stronger and looks fast right now, and more than anything, mentally, I think he's in a great spot, as well.
"Of course we have big visions for 'Ja' and the things that we want him to be able to do. I just don't look at last year as a setback. He's here and he's developed. He had all this time to learn the scheme, learn the drills, build the foundation [and] get physically stronger. Mentally, he's in a great spot so I think it's all positive."
Ojabo and Oweh both got a late start in football, not taking up the sport until high school. Oweh said he won't be surprised if Ojabo has the kind of breakout season he enjoyed during his last year at Michigan.
"I'm just excited for him to show everybody who he really is, as a player, as a person," Oweh said. "We've been working together in the offseason. You can just tell, he was motivated. He had an inner drive to prove something, not just to himself, but to everybody."