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Ravens' Patrick Onwuasor, aka 'Peanut,' is mixing it up

Ravens rookie Patrick Onwuasor, front, leads linebackers in a drill during practice at training camp, Saturday, July 30, 2016.
Ravens rookie Patrick Onwuasor, front, leads linebackers in a drill during practice at training camp, Saturday, July 30, 2016.(GAIL BURTON / AP)

The physical play of rookie free agent linebacker Patrick Onwuasor has drawn notice from fans and media so far in training camp. It has also attracted the ire of some of his teammates.

For the second time in four days practice, Onwuasor was briefly engaged in a scuffle Sunday when fullback Kyle Jusczyk took exception to what might have been a high hit.

Onwuasor, who has been called "Peanut" since a youth basketball coach gave him that nickname, said he has always been a physical player.

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Rookies in the NFL often talk about trying to slow the game down as they transition from college to the pros. For Ravens linebacker Kamalei Correa, the first

"When I was small, my coach said, 'Who is this peanut-head dude running around so aggressive?'" Onwuasor recalled with a laugh. "That's one thing my coaches like about me. I'm physical and I compete."

Onwuasor's late shove of rookie running back Kenneth Dixon on the first day of practice Thursday led to a minor knee injury for Dixon. The next day, Onwuasor got locked up with Buck Allen, causing the running back to swing wildly at him. But Onwuasor said that he is not trying to hurt anyone.

"Being a free agent, you've got to find a way to find your role as part of the team, and that's probably going to be my role, being one of the aggressive, blue-collar players that Coach Harbaugh likes," Onwuasor said. "When we get back in the locker room we're like brothers and family."

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The temperature, the field condition and the scenario each lined up for Justin Tucker, and the Ravens kicker provided the leg, hitting a 69-yard field goal.

Former Ravens coach Brian Billick, who attended practice Sunday in part of his duties with the NFL Network, said that the line between making an impression and getting a reputation as a head-hunter can be difficult to navigate.

"You worry about that a little bit, particularly with the limited practices," Billick said. "Somebody saying, 'I'm going to make my mark.' Well, let's not make your mark taking out one of my top guys. You've got to orchestrate that a little bit."

Onwuasor's road to the NFL has not been easy.

After being moved from wide receiver to safety at Arizona, Onwuasor was kicked off the team by Rich Rodriguez after being arrested on four felony charges that were later dropped.

Onwuasor, who admittedly was hanging around with the "wrong crowd" said that he harbors no resentment toward Rodriguez and the school.

"It was a life-changing thing," Onwuasor said.

Playing safety for Portland State, Onwuasor finished second for the Football Championship Subdivision's national defensive player of the year last season.

don.markus@baltsun.com

twitter.com/sportsprof56

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