Odafe Oweh Is Breaking Out And Still Hasn't 'Scratched the Surface'

OLB Odafe Oweh

In Odafe Oweh's second career game in 2021, he stripped Clyde Edwards-Helaire late with less than two minutes left and recovered the fumble to preserve a Ravens win over the Kansas City Chiefs.

That play earned him AFC Defensive Player of the Week and shot Oweh's career out of a cannon.

Then came a sluggish sophomore campaign with dips in sacks and overall pass rush production. Then an ankle injury suffered in Week 2 this season that derailed an encouraging start to Year 3. Oweh was frustrated and hearing it from the outside didn't help.

Fast forward to Week 12 and Oweh is heating up. The first-round pick is starting to break out and is getting the results. Oweh has four sacks in five games since returning from his ankle injury and that tape shows a lot more production outside of sacks.

"It's just sticking to it, believing you are who you are, and that's really it," Oweh said after Sunday's 34-20 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, in which he notched another sack. "You're going to hear outside noise, but if you let it enter you, that's when it really messes you up."

The signs of Oweh's breakout were there over the summer. He gave the Washington Commanders' offensive line fits during joint practices, for example. But Oweh was a summer standout last year too and it didn't end up leading to the kind of production many predicted.

This year, Oweh has refined his game under the guidance of Outside Linebackers Coach Chuck Smith, a pass-rush specialist who has dialed Oweh into finding what moves work best for him.

"The one-on-one moves have really smoothed out. [The] spin move has smoothed out," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "[He has] two or three go-to moves and probably four or five moves overall that he uses pretty regularly. That's a big addition to what he was before, more just kind of a straight speed rusher, probably, first when he came here."

In Week 10, the Ravens squandered a 14-point fourth-quarter lead in a loss to the Cleveland Browns, but Oweh nearly finished the game with a late sack-strip that the Ravens didn't recover.

Oweh said that earlier in his career, when the ball was out quick or he didn't win early on his pass rush, he would "stop rushing or not stick with the plan."

"Now I just keep on going. Just keep on rushing. That's what Chuck says," Oweh said. "Having a plan of attack and staying relentless."

His relentlessness is what got him the sack against the Bengals.

"It was tough, obviously last year, [then] getting injured," Oweh said. "I felt like I was hitting my stride. But I just thank God that I'm making plays [and] leaving a little on the table as well. There's just more to build on, and I'm just blessed to be where I'm at right now."

That's what Harbaugh sees too. As well as Oweh is playing now, there's still much more room to grow for the freakishly athletic Penn State product.

"He worked incredibly hard at it, and he's still on the ascend," Harbaugh said. "He's getting better all the time, and I don't think he's even scratched the surface yet about what kind of player he can be pass rusher [or on] run defense, all of it."

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