The Ravens signed veteran edge defender Jason Pierre-Paul earlier this week, and that transaction was consummated in order to offer an immediate boost to the team’s pass rushing contingent. It does not necessarily mean that anything has changed with respect to the prognoses of Tyus Bowser and David Ojabo.
Per Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic, Baltimore is hopeful that Bowser will be on the field shortly after he is eligible to return from the PUP list (Twitter link). Bowser, who signed a four-year, $22MM contract in March 2021, rewarded the Ravens’ faith in him with a season in which he started all 17 games and registered career-highs in total tackles (59), sacks (seven), tackles for loss (eight), quarterback hits (15), and forced fumbles (two). Unfortunately, he suffered an Achilles tear in the 2021 finale and was placed on the reserve/PUP list in August, thereby guaranteeing that he would miss at least the first four games of the 2022 season.
Bowser does not necessarily excel in any one area, but he is useful against the run, in coverage, and as a pass rusher. His absence became even more significant when the Ravens lost Steven Means to an Achilles tear of his own last week, and Zrebiec’s report suggests that Bowser’s recovery is progressing more or less as expected.
Ojabo, meanwhile, was a first-round talent who fell to the second round of the 2022 draft due to (what else?) an Achilles tear during his Pro Day. GM Eric DeCosta chose to play the long game when he selected Ojabo, who was always expected to miss most, if not all, of his first season in the NFL. Per Zrebiec, the Ravens remain optimistic that the Michigan product can return in the second half of the season.
The Bowser injury and the dearth of proven pass rush talent on the roster meant that many free agent and collegiate edge defenders were connected to the Ravens this offseason (including Pierre-Paul, who first visited the team back in June). However, aside from the Ojabo selection and signing players like Means and Vince Biegel — who, almost predictably, tore his Achilles this summer — Baltimore did very little of note to address its needs in that regard.
The club did bring back Justin Houston, and it should be noted that the tragic death of Jaylon Ferguson also played a role in the team’s current lack of edge depth. The hope is that 2021 first-rounder Odafe Oweh, Houston, and Pierre-Paul can hold down the fort until Bowser and Ojabo are ready to return, though Oweh has been mostly invisible during the first two games of the season. There is plenty of time for him to get on track, but Baltimore was clearly relying on a second-year breakout from him, and he has yet to show signs of such an emergence.
Luckily, Pierre-Paul will not need much of a ramp-up period, as Zrebeic tweets. JPP will not be on the field for Sunday’s matchup with the Patriots, but he is in line to make his Baltimore debut during the club’s Week 4 contest against the Bills.