Ravens inside linebacker Patrick Onwuasor could inherit the defensive headset that C.J. Mosley left in Baltimore when he signed a record free-agent deal with the New York Jets.
Onwuasor knows that means he must also take on some of Mosley’s leadership ability.
Both players are the strong-and-silent types, but only Mosley has been the man in the middle of a championship-caliber defense. When Onwuasor met with Tony Jefferson two weeks ago, the safety brought along free-agent signing Earl Thomas. They had an agenda for “Peanut.”
“That was the first thing Earl said, was, ‘We’re going to work on your leadership,’ and that’s something that I kind of shy away from, too,” Onwuasor said Tuesday, the second day of the team's offseason workout program. “I’m kind of soft-spoken. I like staying away a bit. I think if I start working on my leadership, it would probably be great for us.”
Onwuasor had a breakout 2018, finishing with 5½ sacks and three passes defended in 16 games (12 starts), both career highs, and his first NFL interception. But the 26-year-old acknowledged that he let his play largely speak for itself in the locker room.
With little experience behind him at the position — Kenny Young and Chris Board were rookies last season, and the team will likely add another inside linebacker through the draft — that must change.
“I really don’t open up to a lot of the guys,” he said. “When I’m on the field, I’m a whole different type of breed. ... So I think that’s what [Thomas] wants. He wants me to open up a little bit more.”
Last month, NFL owners voted overwhelmingly to make pass interference reviewable by replay. Starting this season, interference penalties and noncalls can be reviewed.
“It doesn’t help us,” running back Mark Ingram said Tuesday. “I mean, help the former ‘us.’ ”
He laughed. Perhaps the strongest advocate for the rule change had been Sean Payton, Ingram’s longtime coach in New Orleans. In the final minutes of regulation of last season’s NFC championship game, officials missed a blatant pass-interference penalty by the Los Angeles Rams’ Nickell Robey-Coleman on the Saints’ Tommylee Lewis.
The missed call was crucial. After a short Saints field goal, the Rams took over with enough time to tie the game. They won in overtime, denying Ingram the first Super Bowl appearance of his eight-year career.
“It’s over with now, and I feel like P.I. calls can be nitpicky,” Ingram said. “Why would you review it? It can be called either way. That particular moment, we can’t get — the former ‘we’ — can’t get that back. The damage was done, so I don’t really care about the replay, but as long as it’s fair and it benefits ‘us’ now, I’m fine with it, I guess.”
» Right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. said he hopes Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray, a former Sooners teammate, is the No. 1 overall pick in next week’s NFL draft. He’d be the second straight Oklahoma quarterback to be the first prospect off the board, after the Cleveland Browns took Baker Mayfield last year. Murray has “done it on every level, he’s won on every level, and I know a lot of teams see a certain type of guy and don’t know if their mold will fit,” Brown said. “Man, he’s going to change the NFL — just like Lamar [Jackson] will.”
» Jackson said he didn’t pay much attention to the offseason drama around New York Jets running back Le’Veon Bell, who raised hopes that he would sign with the Ravens after following Jackson on social media. “It was up to him. It was his decision. If we would have gotten him, so be it, but we have Mark [Ingram] who came in, [and we’re] just going to go from there.”
» Ingram said Willie Snead IV, a former Saints receiver, picked him up from his hotel two days in a row on their way to work. “So that’s cool,” he said, laughing.