" My strengths are that I can cover a tight end, slots, backs, and stuff like that," said Ravens linebacker Patrick Onwuasor. (Kevin Richardson / Baltimore Sun video)
Kamalei Correa remains the starting weak-side linebacker on the Ravens defense, but the coaches got an extended look at Patrick Onwuasor in the same role in Saturday night's 13-9 win over the Buffalo Bills at M&T Bank Stadium.
Correa and Onwuasor alternated the first several defensive series with the first unit and even played together when middle linebacker C.J. Mosley was pulled in the second quarter. Onwuasor, an undrafted free agent in 2016, played 55 snaps compared with 38 for Correa, the organization's second-round pick in the same year, but declined to say whether he was closing the gap on Correa for the starting job.
"I leave that up to the coaches," Onwuasor said after the game. "They're doing a great job of rotating us in. He could start the game and then have me come in and relieve him. There are no 'twos' on this defense. We're all 'ones.' The coaches expect the same thing from me if I go in and relieve him if he needs a breather. We all help each other out. Everything else is up to the coaches."
Onwuasor finished with three tackles (two solo), one quarterback hit, one pass breakup, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. His strip of Buffalo rookie wide receiver Brandon Reilly and subsequent fumble recovery with 64 seconds left in the fourth quarter cemented the win.
That final play made up for what had been an irksome outing for Onwuasor.
"I was just frustrated because I was missing tackles," he said. "I know that was one of coach [John] Harbaugh's points of emphasis going into this game. [Linebackers] coach Wink [Don Martindale] wanted to take me out in the third quarter, but I told him to leave me in so that I could play the rest of the game because I wanted to do better with my tackling."
Harbaugh talked during his postgame news conference about Onwuasor’s growth.
“He has a large role on the defense,” Harbaugh said. “He plays a lot on the defense. He’s competing the same way Kamalei is competing. We’ll look at the tapes and see all the details, but that play was a huge play. We want to have guys that make plays that count the most. On the sideline, I heard [rush linebacker Terrell] Suggs say, ‘We need someone to step up and make a play.’ That’s what has to happen in those situations and in these types of games, and ‘Peanut’ [Onwuasor’s nickname] came up with the big play.”