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Undrafted Linebacker Patrick Onwuasor Opening Eyes With Big Hits


There was a loud pop during Sunday's practice, sending Kyle Juszczyk to the turf.

Yes, the pads were on, but this was a bigger hit than expected.

When the burly fullback popped to his feet, he saw the man who hit him: undrafted linebacker Patrick Onwuasor. Juszczyk got in the rookie's face before they were quickly separated.

This wasn't the first time Onwuasor brought gasps from the crowd – and anger from his teammates – with a big hit. It was the fourth time in four training camp practices.

Every year, people want to know who will be the next undrafted rookie to make the team. For 12 straight years, at least one has made the 53-man roster. It's still too early to pencil anyone in, but if there's one undrafted rookie opening eyes most so far, it's Onwuasor.

"Me being a free agent, I've got to come out and play hard and play fast," Onwuasor said. "Some of the vets may not like it, but they know it's part of the game."

In the team's first practice, Onwuasor hit rookie running back Kenneth Dixon near the sideline. The next day, he blasted second-year running back Buck Allen during a one-on-one blocking drill. On Sunday, Onwuasor sent rookie Trevon Coley to the turf during a special teams drill, then later shot through a gap to plow into Juszczyk.

Being veterans, Allen and Juszczyk didn't take too kindly to the extra physicality, but Onwuasor said they haven't held onto any anger.

"When it's over, it's over," he said. "No one has said anything to me. … When we talk, they're like, 'I know what he's about.' I'm a blue-collar player."

Nicknamed "Peanut" since youth basketball, Onwuasor says he's always been known for his physicality.

Onwuasor began his college career at Arizona as a wide receiver. After coaches saw the way he hit, he was moved to safety. However, he ran into trouble at Arizona when he was arrested on four felony charges that were later dropped.

He was kicked out of Arizona and transferred to Portland State, where he flourished. He finished his senior season with nine interceptions and 85 tackles and was second in voting for the Football Championship Subdivision's (FCS) defensive player of the year award.

The Ravens see Onwuasor as a linebacker/safety that they would use in a dime package defense and on special teams. Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees said Saturday that the team is experimenting with players in different positions. It would allow the Ravens to disguise their defense better and provide a player to cover big tight ends.

"They see me as that hybrid player like Deone Bucannon in Arizona," Onwuasor said.

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