Ravens' Rookie Pass Rushers Could Provide a Big Boost


The Ravens' pass rush is led by 35-year-old Terrell Suggs, who has 5.5 sacks through the first nine games.

But watch out for a pair of rookies to provide a boost in the second half of this season.

Baltimore is looking at second-round pick Tyus Bowser and third-round pick Tim Williams as talented, fresh legs who can give the Ravens defense even more teeth.

The Ravens rank 16th in the NFL in sacks (22). They lead the league in takeaways. If Baltimore can put more pressure on opposing quarterbacks, both numbers should go up and an already strong defense should get even better.

Defensive Line Coach Joe Cullen said the rookies could "absolutely" help boost the Ravens' pass rush.

"We get in a situation where you get a lead, and you're rolling, those guys will be rolling in those situations – if they're both healthy and ready to go, which they should be," Cullen said.

Bowser came out of the gates strong, and was named the NFL's Rookie of the Week in just his second game after logging a sack and interception against the Cleveland Browns.

He's seen a drop in defensive snaps since then, however. Bowser has topped 10 snaps just once in the past seven games (Minnesota, 14 snaps), and had three in Tennessee before the bye.

"We need to get him on the field more," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "Tyus is practicing really well, doing a good job on special teams, and [I'm] happy with him. I want to get him out there more, especially rushing the passer."

Linebackers Coach Don Martindale said Bowser's low snap counts have been because Matthew Judon has been playing so well. Judon has 33 tackles and three sacks, including one against the Titans.

That has left Bowser as a sub package SAM linebacker and "penny" defensive end.

"The last three weeks, I have really seen him grow up," Martindale said. "It is always a process with rookies, and every one of them grows at a different pace, but I have really seen him grow up, and I really do think he is going to be a star in this league once he gets it. He is starting to get it."

Williams' primary impediment has been his health. He's dealt with migraines and, most recently, a hamstring injury that has sidelined him for the past four games.

The Alabama product also said he's been dealing with weight issues. He said he got up to between 280 and 290 pounds at the start of the season, but has dropped down to 250.

"I was trying to gain a lot of weight because I didn't know what to expect in this big-boy league," Williams said.

"I thought I had to eat, eat, eat, and it didn't work out for me. But I feel like I'm healthier now, able to run around and have my legs under me. So I'm ready for the second half."

Williams has yet to log his first regular-season NFL sack, though he came close to one against the Browns when he zipped around veteran Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas and hit the quarterback as he wildly threw the ball away on the last play of the game.

That's exactly the kind of scenario the Ravens want to see Williams and Bowser in. They can be the difference-makers to close out games.

"I know what I'm capable of and what I can do," Williams said. "I'm ready for the second half, hopefully starting in Green Bay. Let's see what happens."

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