Ravens trade Justin Houston for veteran OLB returning from injury
The Baltimore Ravens have temporarily lost outside linebacker Justin Houston, who was placed on the Reserve / COVID-19 list following a positive test, according to the Ravens website and the official NFL transaction report.
Houston was one of 47 players to test positive on December 20, a single-day record for the NFL, according to ESPN’s Field Yates. The veteran linebacker joins five other Ravens on the COVID reserve roster, all of whom missed the Ravens’ Week 15 game with the Green Bay Packers.
To replace Houston, the Ravens activated Pernell McPhee from the injured reserve list, where he was placed on November 21 with a knee injury. The veteran outside linebacker hasn’t played since Baltimore’s Week 10 loss to the Miami Dolphins, with Tyus Bowser playing fairly well in his heightened shots during McPhee’s absence.
McPhee will return to training this week after doing individual training with another injured outside linebacker Daelin Hayes last week, by Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic. Hayes has been injured for most of the season, but Zrebiec reported on December 17 that Ravens head coach John Harbaugh expects Hayes to return “very soon”.
Houston excels in Baltimore
Houston was one of Baltimore’s best offseason acquisitions, becoming the team’s second-best defenseman this season. His 77.7 overall Pro Football Focus rating is first among the Ravens’ outside linebackers, and his 78.6 assists scores lead the team.
The veteran All-Pro has recorded 37 quarterback presses this season, already surpassing his 2020 tally, and he’s maintained his cover when Baltimore’s versatile defense plan demands it.
He continuously played in great moments, including against the Packers, when he sacked Aaron Rodgers to keep Green Bay out of the shooting range at the end of the first half.
Houston also has a major impact on the Ravens’ defense as the leader and mentor of the Baltimore outside linebacker corps. Houston can often be seen training more with his younger teammates, especially aspiring stars Tyus Bowser and Odafe Oweh.
Bowser has already set new career highs in presses and sacks this season, while Oweh’s 42 presses rank second among all rookies this season, per PFF. Both players have spoken on several occasions about learning Houston’s 11 years in the NFL, particularly in developing their rushing moves.
Houston’s success on and off the field this season has been instrumental in the Ravens’ continued defense success, despite a brutal injury bug.
Houston could come back against the Bengals
Despite being placed on the Reserve / COVID-19 roster, Houston could return to the Ravens in time to play against the Cincinnati Bengals on December 26.
Under new NFL health and safety protocols, vaccinated players can be removed from the list if they have two negative coronavirus tests, although Houston’s vaccination status is unknown.
If Houston isn’t available to play at Cincinnati, expect to see more shots of Oweh and Jaylon Ferguson at the outside linebacker. Bowser has played over 80% of the Ravens’ defensive snaps in each of the last five games, including three back-to-back games with over 92% of week 12-14 defense snaps, so he can’t exactly handle a workload. more important. .
Second-year linebacker Malik Harrison could also take a few shots against the outside linebacker in Houston’s absence. Harrison entered the NFL as an inside linebacker, but Harbaugh told media on Nov. 26 that Harrison “is definitely an option” for the outside linebacker as well. Former Ohio State Buckeye has only played on special teams since recovering from a shootout in Cleveland on Halloween, but he could see more playing time with Houston.
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