While preparing to welcome standout inside linebacker Roquan Smith to the fold, the Ravens officially moved outside linebackers Tyus Bowser and David Ojabo to the 53-man roster ahead of a Week 9 trip to New Orleans for Monday Night Football.
Working their way back to full strength from their respective Achilles tendon injuries and having concluded their 21-day practice windows, the pair needed to be activated, but it remains to be seen whether either will play against the Saints with the bye week to follow. Head coach John Harbaugh indicated Bowser could be active for the first time since tearing his Achilles tendon in the 2021 season finale on Jan. 9.
“I think Tyus will be ready to play for sure. And really, it kind of comes back to Tyus saying, ‘I’m going,'” Harbaugh said Monday. “He wants to be mentally ready to go, so you can ask him. But I’m kind of counting on him, to be honest with you. He has targeted this game, so we’ll see.”
Baltimore’s 2022 second-round pick who sustained an Achilles tear at his March 18 Pro Day at the University of Michigan, Ojabo was described as “a little different” while still “possible” to play against the Saints, according to Harbaugh.
The Ravens love Ojabo’s upside after his breakout 11-sack season for the Wolverines in 2021, but expectations should be realistic for a 22-year-old who was regarded as a raw prospect even before the injury and didn’t take part in his first NFL practice until Oct. 12. His participation level in workouts this week — Ojabo and Bowser will now be included on the injury report as members of the 53-man roster — should provide a better indication of his odds of debuting Monday night.
“It’s hard. Where is he at? We’ve got to get him out there to practice more and see what he looks like,” Harbaugh said. “He hasn’t really been in any team [periods] yet, so we’ve got to take a look at the team period, see how much he knows of the defense. We’ve just got to see what it looks like. That’s where we’re at right now.”
While there’s much optimism surrounding the return of the two outside linebackers, the Ravens continue to monitor the health of their No. 1 options at wide receiver, tight end, and running back. After playing just 13 snaps and failing to record a reception in his second game back from a left foot sprain that sidelined him for two contests, Rashod Bateman now isn’t expected to play until after the bye week.
It doesn’t sound out of the question that Bateman could go to injured reserve, which would require the 2021 first-round pick to miss at least four games and push his return back until early December. It’s a concerning development for a team that didn’t add another wide receiver to the mix before Tuesday’s trade deadline.
“Bateman’s a little bit more disappointing in the sense that after the game, they thought it was kind of a tweak, but there’s a little more there from a strain standpoint,” Harbaugh said Monday. “Conversations will be had. It looks like it’s going to be a few weeks for him. We’ll have more to report on that later in the week.”
With Bateman out for Week 9, the Ravens could finally take a look at 35-year-old wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who’s been on the practice squad since Oct. 19.
Harbaugh was more optimistic on the status of All-Pro tight end Mark Andrews (shoulder) and running back Gus Edwards (hamstring), but their availability against the Saints remains in question. The Baltimore coach described Edwards as “day-to-day probably” with a “mild” hamstring strain while reiterating that Andrews’ shoulder injury is “not a major, major thing.” Prior to the Tampa Bay game, Andrews was already dealing with a knee injury that kept him out of all but one practice the previous two weeks.
Considering their overall importance to the Ravens’ long-term goals and the way the offense was able to perform without them in the second half of last Thursday’s win, you’d expect the organization to be very cautious with Andrews and Edwards if missing the Saints game can better position them to be 100% healthy for the second half of the season, which begins against Carolina on Nov. 20.