Rookie Patrick Onwuasor filled in briefly for Zachary Orr after the Ravens starting outside linebacker crashed helmets with Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell in the first quarter of Sunday's 31-27 loss at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.
Onwuasor may get an extended audition in Sunday's season finale at the Cincinnati Bengals because Orr has missed three straight practices due to a neck injury and seems unlikely to play.
Onwuasor said he has yet to get confirmation that he will start for Orr – who leads the defense in tackles (130) and fumble recoveries (two) and ranks second in interceptions (three) – but the undrafted free agent is excited about the possibility.
"That would be awfully meaningful," the 6-foot, 217-pound Onwuasor said. "It's meaningful to me and to my family that this organization believes in me to play hard and play fast. That's a dream come true."
Onwuasor made two tackles in Orr's absence last weekend before returning to special teams, where he leads that unit in tackles with 10. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees compared Onwuasor favorably to Orr when he was an undrafted free agent in 2014 learning behind Daryl Smith and C.J. Mosley.
"I think he'll be kind of like what Zach was when he was backing everybody up and then kind of step forward," Pees said. "I think he's going to be that kind of guy. I think he's a good player. I think he's earned a shot on this team to get moved up to special teams, and now he's going to end up playing some linebacker for us. I think the guy has done a real good job."
Onwuasor said he appreciated the trust that Pees and other defensive coaches have in him and would work diligently to validate their faith. But he said he's not nervous about potentially making his starting debut against the Bengals.
"It's still football," Onwuasor said. "That's all it is to me. I just play football. I might get nervous in the game, but first snap, you can't be nervous. Just play football."