Saturday, June 25, 2022

Ravens reunite with veteran ex-Falcons starting linebacker

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The Baltimore Ravens have signed outside linebacker Steven Means. the team announced on June 17who brought the former Atlanta Falcons starter back to Baltimore after his brief stint with the Ravens in 2014.

Means was a fifth-round draft pick for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2013, who was cut shortly after the start of his second season. The Ravens added him to the practice team in 2014 and activated him for a Week 17 contest against the Cleveland Browns, though Means didn’t play a single snap.

Now Means will have another chance to play in defense for the Ravens after spending the last three seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, with 25 starts in the last two seasons. He recorded just 3.0 sacks and five losses at that stretch, including a disappointing 14-start campaign in 2021 with zero sacks. Pro Football Focus’ Means defensive grade of 46.5 was the second-worst among any NFL rim defenders last year, behind only Jason Pierre-Paul, who was visiting with the Ravens earlier this month.

The 31-year-old attended the Ravens’ mandatory mini-camp on a test basis last week, proving he had enough to stay in Baltimore as preseason approaches.

Means will be battling for a roster spot with an outside linebacker group that has become even thinner after the tragic death of third-rounder Jaylon Ferguson in 2019.

The Ravens are bringing back just one starting edge rusher from last season in sophomore breakout candidate Odafe Oweh, with Justin Houston still a free agent and Tyus Bowser recovering from a torn Achilles tendon suffered in January.

2022 second-round pick David Ojabo has been targeting an October return for his torn Achilles tendon, but even then he still has to make progress before he’s an everyday NFL starter. Until Ojabo and Bowser are healthy, the Ravens need someone to step up.

That could be 2021 fifth-rounder Daelin Hayes, who has impressed at camp after a losing rookie season, or former Miami Dolphin Vince Biegel, who signed with the Ravens in May.

The Ravens could also try to land another veteran. Pierre-Paul appeared to have a positive visit, and Baltimore’s use of the UFA tag for Houston grants them exclusive negotiating rights if he doesn’t sign with another team by July 22.

The Ravens will be looking for key contributions from first-round rookie Kyle Hamilton, but Bleacher Report’s Maurice Moton isn’t sure he’ll play enough to make a difference.

“The Ravens have two seasoned security guards in Chuck Clark and Marcus Williams, who just signed a five-year, $70 million contract,” Moton wrote on June 21. “New defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald needs to show some creativity if he wants Hamilton on the field for meaningful snaps.”

However, early indications are that Hamilton will be a big part of the Ravens defense under new defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald. The Notre Dame product has been playing consistently throughout last week’s rookie minicamp, OTAs, and mandatory minicamp.

While the Ravens’ security may keep Hamilton from playing every defensive snap at Baltimore, his talent is unmissable and won’t keep him off the field.

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