Monday, October 3, 2022

Ravens could add Pro Bowl edge rushers after second visit: report

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The Ravens are hosting three-time Pro Bowler Jason Pierre-Paul on his second visit to Baltimore, according to NFL insider Jordan Schultz, indicating the team is closer to increasing the depth of edge swish after another injury at the position.

Veteran outside linebacker Steven Means was ruled out for the season Monday with a torn Achilles tendon, joining Vince Biegel and Daelin Hayes on injured reserve.

Tyus Bowser or David Ojabo could not return until Week 5 at the earliest, but neither returned to training in any capacity in Week 3.

The Ravens are at the point of desperation — their only outside linebackers are 33-year-old Justin Houston and 2021 first-round pick Odafe Oweh.

Malik Harrison, Patrick Queen and Calais Campbell have all snapped from the edge of the defensive line, but none of the three are ideal for positions in Mike Macdonald’s defence.

That’s especially true in the pass rush, where Macdonald focuses on winning individual matchups and applying pressure with four or five defenders.

Pierre-Paul would fit in well there as long as he fully recovered from his shoulder injury last year. He tried to play it through and it showed with just 2.5 sacks in 12 starts. But in the previous four seasons, he recorded 39 sacks that included nine forced fumbles.

If the former Tampa Bay Buccaneer can return to his pre-injury form as a sack artist in Baltimore, the Ravens’ passing rush could potentially last long enough for reinforcements to arrive in the form of Bowser and Ojabo.

Schultz also reported that former Green Bay Packers and New York Giants linebacker Blake Martinez is also visiting the Ravens on Tuesday.

Martinez started in three games for the Giants in 2021 before tearing his cruciate ligament and didn’t make the 53-man tally this year. He has limited experience as a fullback, which is where the Ravens need the most help, but undrafted rookie Josh Ross was also placed on injured reserve Monday, giving Baltimore one more spot to fill.

The six-year veteran started his career in 2016 as a fourth-round pick in Green Bay, where he transitioned into coverage specialist by the end of his rookie contract. Martinez then signed a three-year, $30 million contract with the Giants, which was canceled in September.

The 27-year-old played without any problems last season, so his cruciate ligament seems to have healed enough to be able to play. If that’s the case, he could be a sneaky signing for a Ravens defense that just gave up 469 yards and six touchdowns to Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

Somewhat unusual for a potential Ravens linebacker, Martinez has never been a key contributor to a special team in his career, with only two special team snaps in his last full season of 2020. Baltimore has reserved several roster spots for special teamers in recent seasons, but your ongoing injury crisis will likely force some changes to that practice. You can instead rely on the combined skills of Justin Tucker and Jordan Stout to limit opponent return opportunities.

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