Ravens Rookie Edge Rusher ‘Getting Around Al Villanueva With Ease’

Alejandro Villanueva Ravens

Getty Alejandro Villanueva of the Baltimore Ravens during training camp at Under Armour Performance Center on July 28, 2021.

Former Pittsburgh Steelers left tackle Alejandro Villanueva probably wishes he stayed home from practice on Wednesday, something he did on Tuesday, when he was given a veteran’s day off by Ravens head coach John Harbaugh.

According to Daniel Oyefusi, who covers the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun, rookie edge rusher Odafe Oweh “had his way in multiple pass-rush opportunities against Villanueva, blowing right past him during team drills” and “getting around [him] with ease.”

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That must be disconcerting for Baltimore’s offensive coaches, as the Ravens are currently lacking proven talent at offensive tackle. A big part of the problem is that All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley remains on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list, having suffered a season-ending ankle injury last November 1st during a game against the Steelers. Never mind that the Ravens felt compelled to trade Orlando Brown Jr. to the Kansas City Chiefs during the offseason.

More alarming, still, is that Villanueva’s strength is in pass protection, at least as compared to his run blocking. Last year Pro Football Focus gave him a 77.8 pass blocking grade, but just a 61.0 run blocking grade, the latter ranking him 50th among 87 NFL offensive tackles. And Wednesday wasn’t the first day he has struggled with Oweh’s speed.

It’s worth noting that the Ravens have significant money committed to Villanueva, having signed him to a two-year, $14 million contract with $8 million guaranteed. This despite Villanueva admitting—after the fact—that his options in free agency were “not plenty.”

Who is Odafe Oweh?

As for the rookie pass rusher who is giving Big Al so much trouble, that would be the Ravens’ first-round pick, who was selected No. 31 overall out Penn State.

Daniel Jeremiah of NFL Network has called Oweh “very explosive.” And Ravens defensive coordinator Don ‘Wink’ Martindale has already said he believes Oweh is “going to be a problem” for opposing pass protectors.

Deon Cain: ‘A Player to Watch’ for the Ravens?

Meanwhile, another former Steelers player—that being wide receiver Deon Cain—is making a strong showing in Ravens training camp.

Todd Karpovich, who covers the Ravens for SI.com’s Raven Country, notes that Cain “has made plays throughout the offseason and continues to make an argument for the final roster,” before reminding that “Cain was also the most impressive wide receiver at the Ravens’ voluntary practices” and calling him “a player to watch.”

The Ravens signed Cain to a Reserve/Future contract in January. He entered the NFL in 2018 as a sixth-round draft pick of the Indianapolis Colts out of Clemson University. During his time in Pittsburgh, Cain played in eight games and caught five passes for 72 yards. That’s more than the seven games he played for the Colts in 2019, when he had four receptions for 52 yards.

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