The Baltimore Ravens could get some much-needed reinforcements this weekend in the form of second-year linebacker Malik Harrison, who has missed the team’s last three games after being hit by a stray bullet in Cleveland on Halloween.
After a full week of practice, Harrison could be ready to retake the field in Week 12 on Sunday night against the Cleveland Browns.
He was designated to return from the non-football injury reserve list on Monday, per the NFL’s official transaction report, just a few days after veteran outside linebacker Pernell McPhee was put on injured reserve. While Harrison has mostly played inside linebacker in college and in Baltimore, head coach John Harbaugh indicated that he’d be an option at outside linebacker and even as an edge rusher in the future.
“Yes, he can play outside and inside. He’s definitely an option on the edge at SAM, or defensive end in a nickel package. He can do those things, and he has been practicing at those things,” said Harbaugh today, per the Ravens’ Clifton Brown.
With McPhee joining rookie Daelin Hayes on the IR, the Ravens suddenly find themselves with only four outside linebackers on the active roster, giving Harrison an opportunity to showcase his speed and strength at a new position. Versatility on defense has always been valued in Baltimore, with linebackers like Tyus Bowser and Odafe Oweh filling several roles instead of just rushing the passer.
Harrison has also struggled at inside linebacker this season, especially in coverage. His 144.2 passer rating when targeted is a large contributor to his 32.8 Pro Football Focus pass coverage grade that is one of the worst in the league at his position. But a switch to outside linebacker could help Harrison, a solid run defender and tackler, play to his strengths, much like Patrick Queen’s switch to weakside inside linebacker has unlocked his ability to quickly read and shut down opposing running backs.
Harrison in ‘Good Shape’ After Shooting
Despite the scary situation in Cleveland almost a month ago, Harrison is in “good shape,” according to Harbaugh, who added, “He did a nice job in the three weeks he was away with his injury situation,” per ESPN’s Jamison Hensley.
Queen, who was drafted in 2020 alongside Harrison, said that he was “shocked” when he first saw the news about his teammate and close friend.
“You just don’t wake up and expect to see some stuff like that,” he said, “Thankfully, [the bullet] went where it did and didn’t go higher or lower. It could have caused damage.”
The Ravens are certainly thankful that Harrison didn’t suffer any long-term damage on Halloween, as injuries have already knocked out several starters, including multiple All-Pro players, for the rest of the season.
Queen is looking forward to having Harrison back on the field, saying today, “That’s my guy. I love him. Wish the best for him, finally about to suit up. Can’t wait.”
Daelin Hayes to Return This Year
The Ravens’ linebacker corps will likely get another player back this season, in the form of rookie outside linebacker Daelin Hayes. The Notre Dame product suffered a high ankle sprain earlier this season and also underwent a “cleanup procedure” on his knee, per Jonas Shaffer of The Baltimore Sun.
Harbaugh is expecting to have Hayes back this season, according to Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic, which would give the Ravens another option at outside linebacker, with Bowser, Oweh and veteran Justin Houston thriving in recent games.
The returns of Hayes and Harrison are a welcome reminder to the Ravens fanbase that despite a brutal string of injuries this season, the Baltimore defense still has a bright future.