There has been plenty of back-and-forth with words between the Ravens and Denver Broncos in the aftermath of their hard-hitting game Sunday. However, Ravens rookie outside linebacker Odafe Oweh said he was just doing his job when he delivered a hit on Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater that knocked him out of the game with a concussion.
"I had no ill-intent on trying to knock him out of the game, or to make sure he wasn't playing football the rest of the game," Oweh said. "Our mentality is to try to be the Ravens defense, bring physicality and do everything that we got to do safely, no penalties. Try to play hard-hitting football. I wish Teddy prosperity. I wasn't trying to do anything dirty."
Backup quarterback Drew Lock played the entire second half as Baltimore pulled away for a 23-7 victory. Oweh got his second sack of the season and the Ravens' defense finished with five sacks and 11 quarterback hits. Oweh had another near-sack of Lock but didn't secure the tackle.
"That one's still in my mind," Oweh said. "That's just growing pains. I've got to track him better. As the game gets passed along and I get more experience, I'm going to make that tackle."
Oweh did get a sack, his second of the season, on the Broncos' first offensive drive with Bridgewater.
"When you turn the edge, and you see that he's still standing there and you keep on getting closer and he's still not even seeing you, you just get happy," Oweh said. "You saw me just pounce like a lion or something like that."
Once the Broncos fell behind by 16 points, their offense became one-dimensional and Baltimore's pass rush teed off. That's how the Ravens love to play and Oweh has been one of the main catalysts for their pass rush as a rookie.
"I just felt like as the game went along, we kept getting more closer and closer," Oweh said. "They started losing more hope. They started running the ball less and just trying to pass, trying to get the ball downfield. That's what we wanted from the jump, for Teddy to drop back or Drew to drop back so we could get after them. When that happened, we knew that we had a good chance."
Oweh Strives to Be Every-Down Linebacker
In addition to being an excellent pass rusher, Oweh is strong against the run and has the athleticism to drop into pass coverage. That versatility factored into Baltimore's decision to make him a first-round pick.
He's already one of the main cogs in Baltimore's defense, having played at least 68 percent of the defensive snaps in three of the first four games. He was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week after he forced two turnovers that fueled Baltimore's comeback victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 2.
Oweh is grateful to be part of the mix so soon, but he hungers for more playing time. He wants to be an every-down linebacker and has always balked at being labeled just a pass rusher. Penn State's coaches talked about using him as a pass-rush specialist when he was a freshman, but Oweh wasn't having it.
"I hate that," Oweh said. "I try to make sure I'm good in every phase. That's definitely my goal to try to be an every-down linebacker.
"I think I've adjusted pretty well for a rookie. I can get better in terms of reading everything and playing a little bit faster. But I feel my athleticism helps me in a lot spaces where other rookies might struggle. But there's always room for improvement."
Patrick Mekari Makes His Mark at Right Tackle
Despite the three-week absence of All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley, the Ravens have won three straight games since reshuffling their offensive line. The consistent play of Patrick Mekari has been one of the keys, taking over as the starting right tackle when Alejandro Villanueva moved to left tackle to replace Stanley.
Mekari may have played his best game of the season in Week 4, matched against Broncos star pass rusher Von Miller, the AFC Defensive Player of the Month in September. Miller was held to one quarterback hit and was given a season-low 56.4 grade by Pro Football Focus.
Versatility has always made Mekari a valued member of the offensive line. He ended last season as the starting center and he has also started at right guard during his career. Mekari has settled into the right tackle spot without missing a beat.
"I think every position's tough, but I think the coaches have done a great job ironing out the fine details and get better every week," Mekari said. "God has blessed me with the ability to play different positions and I just hope that I play them well."
Baltimore's offensive line has faced major challenges this year, but the unit has responded, with Bradley Bozeman playing as well as any center in the NFL.
Meraki doesn't think the group has reached its zenith.
"I think it takes time for an offensive line to come together and gel together and perform well," Mekari said. "I feel like we're only going to get better from here."
Devin Duvernay Welcomes More Talent Into Crowded Receiver Room
Baltimore's wide receivers are rolling and with Rashod Bateman and Miles Boykin returning to practice last week, the wideout room will become more crowded whenever they return from injured reserve.
Devin Duvernay likes what he has seen from Bateman and Boykin in practice.
"They look great," Duvernay said. "Look like they haven't missed a beat. Definitely will be excited to get those guys back to help our offense and continue to keep this thing rolling."
Duvernay isn't worried about how the targets and playing time will be distributed.
"I'm sure the coaches got a good game plan, have different ways to get people the ball," Duvernay said.
Oweh's Younger Brother Lands Basketball Scholarship
The Oweh family has plenty to be proud of these days. While Odafe is one of the NFL's top rookies, his younger brother, Otega, has announced his commitment to Oklahoma on a basketball scholarship.
The Ravens have three former Sooners on their roster who undoubtedly approve of Otega's decision – Mark Andrews, Marquise "Hollywood" Brown and Ben Powers.
But none of them are as excited as big brother Odafe, who was a star AAU basketball player before he turned took up organized football for the first time in the 11th grade.
"It feels good just seeing him work hard, spend long nights in the gym, long mornings in the gym," Odafe said. "For him to be able to commit to a school like that, Oklahoma, it makes me feel good because I know I did my part. He's looking up to me and he's trying to do everything he can do on his path."