Late for Work 8/18: Odafe Oweh Is Ravens' Pass Rush Padawan

081821-LFW
OLB Odafe Oweh

Odafe Oweh Calls Teammate Justin Houston "Yoda"

A Star Wars fan, linebacker Odafe Oweh may be.

On Monday, Oweh called teammate Justin Houston "Yoda," and shared how the veteran has helped educate him when it comes to things on and off the field.

As it stands, Houston is quite a master of his pass-rushing craft, ranking No.3 in sacks among active players with 97.5 sacks, trailing only linebacker Von Miller (106) and defensive end J.J. Watt (101). Former Raven Terrell Suggs (139) and defensive end Cameron Wake (100.5) have more sacks and haven't announced their retirement officially, but neither played last year and are currently not on a team.

Becoming an understudy (or to use Star Wars terminology, a "Padawan") of Houston, can only stand to benefit the rookie. After all, Houston is fewer than three sacks from joining the centennial sack club.

Ravenswire's Kevin Oestreicher echoes these sentiments and notes Houston's experience isn't solely for Oweh.

"Bringing in a player like Houston will go a long way for young guys like Oweh," Oestreicher wrote. "The former Indianapolis Colt has a massive amount of NFL experience as a 10-year veteran, and the lessons he can teach using the things that he's learned are extremely valuable. Oweh clearly wants to learn as much as he can from Houston, and it's that mentality that will allow the rookie to unlock so many things inside of him, both as a football player and as a person."

Houston isn't just all sacks, either. Over the course of his career, he's played in 134 games and notched 451 tackles, 117 tackles for loss, and forced 17 fumbles. He can offer wisdom in staying healthy, defending the run and being a complete outside linebacker.

And it's this type of teaching that is capable of leaving a long-term impact, writes Pro Football Talk's Josh Alder.

"Houston is in Baltimore to help the pass rush in the short term, but Oweh's comments about working with the former Chief and Colt suggest his impact on the team could last for years to come," Alder wrote. "Houston may not be tiny and green, but Oweh said he's been something of a Jedi Master while working with his younger teammate."

It's not just Houston's presence that Oweh will benefit from. Ebony Bird's Justin Fried wrote that Oweh will be one of the Ravens who benefits most from Stanley's increased practice reps.

"Oweh now has the opportunity to line up opposite one of the NFL's premier left tackles in practice," Fried wrote. "And that's an opportunity that most rookie edge rushers don't have.

"Oweh is still learning to win as a pass rusher in the NFL with more than just his athleticism. On Monday, he attempted a swift spin move only to be stone-walled by his more experienced teammate. Stanley has been here before. His blend of athleticism and technical refinement makes him the perfect counterpart for Oweh in practice."

Oweh's athleticism is still making waves, however. He said he had jitters going into his first preseason game because he didn't know if his athleticism would be matched, "but I still feel and edge."

Oweh showed that with his new role as a gunner on the punt coverage team. The Ravens continue to find ways to use the 6-foot-5, 251-pound linebacker's unique athleticism and sub 4.4 40-yard dash speed.

Is Lamar Jackson the Best Player on the Ravens' Roster?

ESPN's Ryan Clark posed a question asking how many teams in the NFL can say their quarterback is truly their best player.

Former Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith quickly responded, believing the Ravens and Lamar Jackson should be on the short list.

While it's easy to quash any debate by pointing to Jackson's unanimously elected 2019 League MVP award, a little consideration of other players on the Ravens' roster couldn't hurt.

Before suffering injury in November 2020, PFF ranked Stanley No. 2 among tackles overall and No. 1 among tackles for pass blocking. PFF's Sam Monson believes that's doesn't extend far enough, stating Stanley is the best pass-blocker in the NFL.

This offseason, ESPN polled more than 50 league executives, coaches and others to measure up the top players at each position. According to those polls, Stanley was No. 5 for tackles and Jackson placed No. 8. And while neither PFF nor ESPN's poll are the be-all-end-all, it brings something to the debate.

Cornerback Marlon Humphrey is another player to consider for best player. He has dominated on defense and grown into one of the NFL's best defensive backs. In fact, Humphrey placed second in the aforementioned ESPN poll, trailing only cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Last season, Humphrey did it all, totaling 82 tackles, eight forced fumbles, 2.5 sacks, an interception and a safety. It's enough to consider the debate more seriously.

A final case could be made for kicker Justin Tucker. After all, he's the most accurate kicker in NFL history with a career field goal rate of 90.654%.

Though some arguments have been made, the pundits all seem to agree that Jackson is the best in the building.

Stepping back from the debate and looking at this from a macro-perspective, this shows the embarrassment of riches the Ravens acquired through the NFL Draft. Of the four mentioned, three were first-round selections (Stanley, Humphrey, Jackson) and Tucker joined as an undrafted free agent.

What Happens With Trace McSorley After Back Injury?

With quarterback Trace McSorley set to miss multiple weeks of practice due to a back injury, the backup quarterback role has all but resolved in the eyes of pundits.

Entering training camp, the No. 2 spot on the quarterback depth chart was a significant storyline. But with the news of McSorley, that has come to an end according to The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec.

"The No. 2 quarterback competition is pretty much over two weeks before the Ravens' 53-man roster has to be set," Zrebiec wrote. "Even if [McSorley] returns in the two-to-three-week range, that would give the former Penn State standout very little time to be ready for the Sept. 13 regular-season opener against the Las Vegas Raiders."

Baltimore Beatdown's Joshua Reed thinks Huntley also fits the Jackson mold more than McSorley.

"Even though both players possess dual-threat skill sets as runners and throwers, Huntley just looks like the more stylistic fit of the two and more closely resembles Jackson when he takes off and runs especially," Reed wrote.

While the job has seemingly been filled, it doesn't answer what will the Ravens do about McSorley? Zrebiec offered insight as to what the Ravens can do.

"The question now becomes whether McSorley is in the team's 2021 plans. If he's not and he's still not practicing on Aug. 30, when the 53-man roster has to be finalized, the Ravens could put the 2019 sixth-round pick on season-ending injured reserve," Zrebiec wrote.

"If the Ravens want to preserve his ability to play for the team this year, they could include him on the initial 53 and then put him on IR on Aug. 31 or later. That would mean the earliest he'd be eligible to play is Week 4. That would all be moot if McSorley returns in the next two weeks and is healthy enough to practice, as unlikely as that seems. In the bigger picture, McSorley's injury and Huntley's elevation essentially takes two off the bubble at a time where the roster is starting to come into focus."

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