When the Ravens' schedule was originally released, Tyus Bowser was excited. The native of Tyler, Texas saw that the Ravens were scheduled to play a preseason game in Dallas, along with Sunday's road game against the Houston Texans. That meant two trips to Texas for Bowser, two chances to catch up with family and friends.
But due to the coronavirus, Bowser's friends and family won't be in the stands cheering for him Sunday when he runs out of the tunnel.
Bowser is disappointed about that, but excited about how he's playing. He played a career-high 39 snaps Week 1 against the Browns. Not only did he contribute a sack, Bowser was also a strong presence defending the run and dropping into pass coverage. Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale said it was his best game as a Raven.
Entering his fourth NFL season, Bowser seems to be rounding into the type of player the Ravens expected when they drafted him in the second round in 2017. After a career-high 5.0 sacks last season, Bowser is playing with the swagger of a player who knows he belongs.
"That's exactly how I wanted to start," Bowser said. "Just trying to be the best player I can be, both in the pass rush and in coverage."
Bowser didn't hide being bummed that he won't be able to family and friends this weekend, because he'll be following the NFL's protocols and staying in the team's hotel once he arrives in Houston. However, Bowser plans to give them a performance Sunday to make them proud.
"All my family was buying tickets, saying they were going to come to the game," Bowser said. "They continue to ask, when are they going to have fans? It's hard, but I'm definitely going to go out and rep them."
Ex-Raven Anthony Weaver Putting Stamp on Texans Defense
Former Ravens defensive lineman Anthony Weaver, who was a Ravens second-round pick in 2002 and played four seasons in Baltimore, is in his first season as Houston's defensive coordinator. When Head Coach John Harbaugh studies film this week, he sees Weaver's DNA in Houston's defense.
"A very aggressive defense," Harbaugh said. "Coach Weaver has put together a mindset that is an attacking-type style. On third down especially, they give you every kind of look, every kind of blitz, the coverages behind it are very impressive. They have the players to do it. They move J.J. Watt around a lot so you can see he's thinking about matchups all the time. We wouldn't expect anything less. He's a very well-respected coach in the league. He also believes in fundamentally sound defense, and guys who play fast. Those are things we'd expect from a former Raven, of course, and he's doing a great job."
Dual Roles in Houston Keep Bill O'Brien Busy
Bill O'Brien is one of the few NFL coaches carrying the dual titles of Coach/General Manager. Jack Easterby is Houston's Executive Vice President of Football Operations, but the Texans are going against the grain having their head coach also serving as general manager.
Asked about that on Friday, Harbaugh said he could only speak to the success he's had in Baltimore working with Owner Steve Bisciotti, General Manager Eric DeCosta, and former GM and current Executive Vice President Ozzie Newsome.
"Different people do it differently, but I guess I can only speak to the way we've done it here all these years; it's a collaboration," Harbaugh said. "I'm sure in Bill O'Brien's case, he's not doing the day-to-day work on the front office side; he's coaching the football team. I just think there's too much work for one guy to really do all the work. How they appropriate the decision making is different in each case, but in the end, it has to be a collaboration. People have to work together to be successful. And I do believe that's something that Steve is a big proponent of and Ozzie] was so great at and Eric is so great at, and that's why I appreciate the way we're set up here."
Bowser Will See a Familiar Face When He Faces Mahomes
It won't get easier for the Ravens in Week 3 when they host the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs on Monday Night Football.
The game will reunite Bowser and Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. They were high school rivals in Texas, playing both football and basketball against each other. Mahomes' legend as a football player is already secure as former NFL MVP and the reigning Super Bowl MVP. However, Bowser also said Mahomes could hold is own on the court.
"Consistent battles, going at each other all the time," Bowser said. "He's definitely a good basketball player."