Patrick Onwuasor enjoyed the first two-sack game of his NFL career in the Ravens’ 21-0 rout of the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. The performance was surprising enough that the inside linebacker had a difficult time recalling the last time he had two sacks in a single game.
“Dang, a two-sack game?” he said after Friday morning’s walk-through. “Probably high school [at Inglewood in California]. I don’t know how many sacks I had in college [at Portland State], but I would probably say high school.”
Onwuasor now has three sacks in three years as a pro, but coach John Harbaugh insisted the linebacker is capable of similar showings.
“He’s a very quick player, quick reactor,” he said. “He can really run and accelerate, and then we ran some pressures, and he added on to some things from a coverage standpoint – rush-the-cover-type rushes that he’s just good at because he’s so fast and aggressive.”
Onwuasor, 26, started 13 games last season as the defense’s other inside linebacker next to middle linebacker C.J. Mosley in its 3-4 alignment. But he has shared the role this season with rookie Kenny Young, starting the first two games and then Sunday in Tennessee.
“It doesn’t really matter who’s in there because we do still play a lot of special teams,” he said. “So that’s where our main focus is at as long as we can take care of special teams and play defense. You want that position to be fresh because that’s what we like to do. We like to fly around and get around the ball, and with us rotating, that’s not a problem. That’s what we like to do.”
Onwuasor and Young have each made a tackle on special teams, and Young has recovered a fumbled punt return. Defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale agreed that the special teams component is a significant factor in deciding who starts.
“We had a thing a couple weeks ago when one of them wasn’t as effective on special teams and the other one was,” he said. “We named the starter that week because that’s what we need for this team. We emphasize, obviously, in our room defense and that goes without saying, but we also know the importance of special teams and building a team. A lot of our guys play on special teams, and I want them to attack special teams the same way we do defense. They all know that.”
But is there even a small part of Onwuasor that would prefer to be the full-time starter?
“I leave that up to the coaches,” he said. “If they want me to start, I’ll be the starter. If not, I’m a team player. Whatever the team needs, that’s what I’ll do.”
Note: The Ravens added tackle James Hurst (back) to the injury report Saturday as questionable.