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50 Words Or Less: Odafe Oweh Will Lead Improved Ravens Pass Rush

OLB Odafe Oweh
OLB Odafe Oweh

As the Ravens round the turn towards their first preseason game, we're starting to see which players are stacking days, as Head Coach John Harbaugh likes to say.

Here are observations and takeaways from Ravens training camp, all in 50 words or less:

I hear fan concern about the Ravens' pass rush with Tyus Bowser and second-round pick David Ojabo on the mend, and it grew louder when Vince Biegel suffered a season-ending Achilles tear. However, I expect the pass rush will be better than people think. Let me explain …

Watching practice, it's becoming clear that Odafe Oweh could have a breakout sophomore season. No Raven has reached double digits in sacks since Terrell Suggs in 2017. I think Oweh ends the skid in 2022. Bowser led the team with seven sacks last year, but Oweh will this season.

Oweh was already explosive off the edge. He feels his burst at the top of his bend is even better. His fastball is harder to hit, and he's mixing in off-speed pitches now, too (to run with baseball terminology). A late bloomer, Oweh's sharpening his tools, learning the game more.

The Ravens got only 5.5 sacks from defensive linemen last season. This year, that number should double. Justin Madubuike needs to have the breakout that was predicted last season. Rookie Travis Jones has been dominant. Michael Pierce adds another element up front and could notch several sacks himself.

The rush and coverage go hand in hand when it comes to getting sacks. How many near misses did Houston have last season? An improved secondary will give those up front a fraction of a second longer to get home. Oh, and Bowser may be back sooner than people expect.

A familiar offense is starting to take shape. Lamar Jackson has more comfort behind a stronger offensive line and he's loving hitting his tight ends. We need to see the running game get cranked up, and J.K. Dobbins' potential return next week will help, but it's starting to feel 2019-ish.

The key to truly getting back to 2019 is the rushing attack. Baltimore's depth is significantly better than last year with Mike Davis, Justice Hill, Corey Clement and rookie Tyler Badie. But Baltimore still needs Dobbins to have to be close to what he was pre-injury to take off.

With the way he's practicing, fourth-round rookie tight end Isaiah Likely looks headed for a substantial role in this offense. Likely just keeps getting open. He has soft hands and a large catch radius. Likely hasn't had a let up yet, and that includes work against the first-team defense.

Tyler Linderbaum will miss 1-2 weeks, but for a rookie projected immediate starter, that's like dog years. Is what it is; nothing you can do about it. But that's a lot of lost practice time for a player that needs to grow and gel with the rest of the line.

Add Greg Roman to those who believe Mark Andrews looks even more "yoked up" than in past years. What's most impressive about Andrews, however, is the way he practices. It's full tilt every single day. Baltimore got it so right signing him to a long-term deal. Andrews is a monster.

I hear fans' concern that Ronnie Stanley isn't back on the field yet. To me, it sounds like a matter of "when" not "if" Stanley is back on the field before the season begins. Baltimore isn't going to rush a player that doesn't need practice reps to hone his craft.

The same applies for Marcus Peters. Everybody knows what Peters brings. It's all about getting their bodies at peak performance. Shaking off the "rust" of not playing football in so long is way more important than actually playing football. The movements can be simulated without the risk of practicing.

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