With the Ravens’ 2022 regular season fast approaching, there are bound to be some players that have a greater impact on the team’s success than some others. We’re taking a look at who those players might be and why they matter.
The Baltimore Ravens had a trying 2021 campaign, to say the least, and are primed for a rebound as the 2022 NFL season approaches. So far, they have taken suitable precautions in preventing another rash of injuries much like the ones they faced the year prior. Despite a freak injury to linebacker Vince Biegel, the Baltimore Ravens have remained relatively healthy through the early preseason processes.
Obviously, the Baltimore Ravens have their superstar players that they would be devastated to lose. However, there are other key contributors who would put the team in dire straits if they were to fall out of the lineup. Below, there are three Ravens that will be key to the team’s success in 2022.
Lamar Jackson, Quarterback, Baltimore Ravens
It goes without saying that the quarterback is the most critical position on the football field and Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson certainly exemplifies that sentiment. The 2021 season was a lost year for the team and no player felt that more than Jackson, who missed the final five games of the season due to injury. Jackson struggled on and off last season, with his worst performance coming during a Week 12 matchup with the Cleveland Browns in which he threw four interceptions.
Jackson is looking to rebound in 2022 and get the Ravens back to the playoffs after a disappointing 8-9 record last season. According to ESPN. Jackson reportedly looks bigger in camp after gaining “12-15” more pounds of muscle during the offseason while claiming to feel better than during his 2019, MVP season. He has looked incredible through training camp thus far, showing off a much crisper throwing motion and better accuracy that has impressed the team’s coaching staff.
Jackson’s improvements in the offseason are impressive but how it translates to the field will be the most important. Recapturing his 2019 form could lead the Ravens into a deep playoff run and potential Super Bowl bid.
James Proche, Wide Receiver, Baltimore Ravens
Not every team can say that a former sixth-round pick would be one of their most important players heading into a season. However the Baltimore Ravens are one of those teams, and former SMU wide receiver James Proche is expected to step into a crucial role in Greg Roman’s offense. Between the departure of Marquise “Hollywood” Brown and the injury to Tylan Wallace, Proche has a chance to create some buzz for himself in 2022. Rashod Bateman is also worthy of a mention here given his role as the team’s number one receiver.
Proche has seen minimal playing time the last two seasons, reflected in a combined 216 receiving yards with zero touchdowns to his name. Despite his paltry numbers as a depth wide receiver, Proche has been impressing the Ravens’ coaching through the first two weeks of training camp. Ryan Mink of baltimoreravens.com noted that Proche has built up great chemistry with Jackson which is a promising sign as the season draws near. Additionally, The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec reports that Proche has been one of the most consistent Baltimore Ravens through training camp, catching everything thrown his way.
Unfortunately, Proche is dealing with a soft tissue injury that Head Coach John Harbaugh expects to put him out of the lineup for one to two weeks. Even so, Proche will likely be healthy for the Ravens’ Week One matchup with the New York Jets, and with a lack of elite depth at wide receiver, Proche will be expected to carry his share of the offensive load.
Odafe Oweh, EDGE Rusher, Baltimore Ravens
The Baltimore Ravens drafted Odafe Oweh to be their next great pass rusher despite his raw ability and lack of college production. During his final season at Penn State, Oweh was knocked for his low sack numbers, finishing the year with zero sacks but six and a half tackles for a loss. This is contrasted by his rookie season in the NFL in which Oweh notched a sack in his first game while finishing the year with five total.
But more impressively, Oweh ranked among the top three rookies in terms of pressures, finishing the 2021 season with 49 total. So far through the first two weeks of camp, Oweh has been lights out on the practice field, looking practically unphased despite having off-season shoulder surgery. His athleticism continues to shine while showing notable improvements in his use of hands. He will be asked to helm the Ravens’ front seven as the top edge rusher, even with veterans Justin Houston and Tyus Bowser in tow.
A few weeks ago, I noted how Oweh is primed for a breakout season in 2022. He has all of the potential to reach his ceiling and with his position as the lead pass rusher, the onus is on him to reach those heights. The Baltimore Ravens defense is reliant on elite pass rusher ability and Oweh needs to bring that in 2022.