When the Ravens selected Tyus Bowser and Tim Williams in the NFL draft in April, the outside linebackers were expected to infuse the pass rush with energy and talent.

Their production has been slow to materialize. Even though the defense is tied for 12th in the league in sacks with 22, Bowser endured a five-game stretch without one and has just two, while Williams is searching for the first of his fledgling career.


But Bowser and Williams said there’s no sense in panicking with seven more games left after the team’s bye this weekend.

“Everything happens for a reason, and that’s how all of us look at it,” said Bowser, a second-round selection. “I know the coaches know what they’re doing, and we’re just waiting on our time to go out there and make a statement. We’re not worried about it. We’re just here to support and do whatever we can to help the team win. When our time comes, our time will come. We’ll go out there and shine.”

Bowser, who finished his career at Houston ranked seventh in sacks with 21½, has played in every game, adding an interception and two pass breakups. But linebackers coach Don Martindale made it clear that Bowser backs up starter Matthew Judon at the strong-side position.

In all likelihood, the Ravens will have to win five of their last seven games to have a playoff shot.

“I see him more as a sub ’backer, as a ‘penny’ defensive end,” Martindale said of Bowser. “We have been moving him around in the sub package. … The last three weeks, I have really seen him grow up. It is always a process with rookies, and every one of them grows at a different pace, but I have really seen him grow up, and I really do think he is going to be a star in this league once he gets it.”

Meanwhile, Williams, a third-round choice, has spent more time off the field than on it. He has been deactivated for five games because of a hamstring injury, and a lack of special-teams experience and has led to only three tackles.

“There’s a lot of expectations, but I have my own expectations about what I need to do, not what people put up on me,” he said. “I don’t let that pressure affect me at all. I come here every day smiling, knowing that I’m a young guy and that I still have a lot to learn.”

Defensive line coach Joe Cullen said his opinion of Williams remains high.

“I think it’s confidence,” he said. “As you get one, you tend to feel a little bit more confident in doing that. You think back earlier in the year in the Cleveland game [when] Tim blew right by [Pro Bowl left tackle] Joe Thomas — who I know well — on the last play of the game, and it really should have been a sack, but threw it up just because it was the last play of the game. He’s had some good hits.”

Here’s a look at how the rest of the 2017 rookie class has fared:

Cornerback Marlon Humphrey: Three weeks ago, Pro Football Focus cited Humphrey, the 16th overall pick, as one of its top rookie cornerbacks, and the former Alabama standout has an overall grade of 81, making him the No. 33 cornerback, according to the website. Humphrey provides much-needed depth behind starters Jimmy Smith and Brandon Carr. “I’m really happy with where Marlon’s at,” coach John Harbaugh said. “He’s playing more and more every week, and he continues to play very well. I think he’ll get better.”

Key number: Despite playing only 34.8 percent of the defensive snaps, Humphrey ranks fifth on the unit in pass breakups with five.


Defensive end Chris Wormley: The first of two choices in the third round, the Michigan graduate was a healthy scratch through the first four games. But Wormley made his debut in a 30-17 victory over the Oakland Raiders on Oct. 8 and made back-to-back starts in a 27-24 overtime loss to the Chicago Bears and a 24-16 setback to the Minnesota Vikings. “He plays a position in our defense where it’s one of those positions where you’re not going to get a lot of glory,” defensive line coach Joe Cullen said. “He’s playing more square, playing more physical, and in the last couple of weeks, he’s progressing pretty well.”

Key number: Wormley is the fourth rookie defensive lineman to start a game for the Ravens in the past four years.



Guard Nico Siragusa: The fourth-round selection projected as a depth player who might have received limited action in the regular season. But Siragusa, a San Diego State graduate, saw his rookie campaign come to a premature end when he tore the ACL, MCL, and PCL in his left knee during a training camp practice Aug. 1. “We were working him as a guard, as both guards, and working him at center,” offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris said. “He was doing a really good job of absorbing all of the offense, the communication skills, and then applying his technique and fundamentals.”

Key number: Siragusa participated in five training camp practices before suffering his season-ending injury.

The Ravens head into their bye week with the league's eighth-best running attack, which is a victory by any measure.


Guard Jermaine Eluemunor: The fifth-round choice’s education began quickly as a fractured left ankle suffered by six-time Pro Bowl selection Marshal Yanda opened the door for Eluemunor to see his first action in a 44-7 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in London, his birth city. When Matt Skura suffered a sprained MCL in his right knee in Oakland, Eluemunor started at right guard against Chicago and Minnesota before Skura returned. “As a coach, we look at who’s productive and who’s not productive,” D’Alessandris said. “Not that Jermaine is not productive. He has just been a little inconsistent. That could be because of his youth, but he’s going to continue to grow.”

Key number: Eluemunor is the sixth rookie offensive lineman to start for the Ravens in the past six seasons.


Safety Chuck Clark: With starters Eric Weddle and Tony Jefferson and reserves Lardarius Webb and Anthony Levine Sr. entrenched as the top four safeties, the sixth-round pick has carved out a role on special teams. Clark played in the first eight games before a hamstring ailment forced him to sit out Sunday’s 23-20 loss to the Tennessee Titans. “Very happy with Chuck,” Harbaugh said. “Chuck’s been excellent on special teams. He’s been like a vet on special teams.”

Key number: Despite missing Sunday’s game, Clark is tied for second on special teams in tackles with four, all solo.



The rookie class has seven more games before any conclusions can be drawn. But Harbaugh said he has been pleased by what he has seen so far.

“I’m happy with them,” he said. “Could we squeeze more out of them? That’s what we’re trying to do. Absolutely. We’re trying to squeeze every drop out of every guy, including every rookie.”

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