This season was supposed to be David Ojabo’s chance to boom, to show he can bring that extra jump the pass rush has been looking for. Instead, his season has ended with surgery to repair a partially torn ACL, coach John Harbaugh said Monday.

He is expected to be ready for training camp next season at the latest. Ojabo, according to Harbaugh, wanted to play through the injury but was advised against it by doctors.

“David’s going to be a great player in this league,” Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald, who coached Ojabo at Michigan, said. “He’s going to have a great career. Obviously, you feel for him, the way that his career has started. He’s dealing with adversity right now, so he needs our support, and he has it. But he’s going to have a great career, and he’s going to recover. He’ll be back, ready to roll, next year. I have full confidence in that.”

The outside linebacker was the Ravens’ second-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. They had hoped he would come in and bolster a Ravens pass rush that was robust last year, finishing sixth in the NFL, but was filled with aging players and saw little impact from the outside linebackers. Thirty-three-year-old outside linebacker Justin Houston had 9.5 sacks, but outside of him, the other top-five sack leaders on the Ravens were not outside linebackers, despite the team’s investment in the position with their past few drafts.

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Ojabo’s rookie year was limited due to injury — he tore his Achilles tendon in the predraft process and only played in two games. But after a strong offseason, he came to camp ready for a breakout season after putting on “good weight” while maintaining his explosiveness. He proved he could be disruptive, consistently pressuring the quarterback in joint practices with the Washington Commanders.

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Once the season arrived, Ojabo started the season off with a sack against the Houston Texans, but his impact was limited over the next two games. Then he left the game against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 3 with what was described as an ankle injury.

The next day, Harbaugh was vague in his update, saying : “David [Ojabo]’s being evaluated there. So, he has the ankle issue. We’ll see where it’s at.”

The following Monday, Harbaugh was once again reticent to address Ojabo’s situation, describing him as still under evaluation. He did say that if Ojabo decided to have surgery, his season would be over.

“There are decisions that have to be made that he has to make, in terms of how he wants to approach the injury issue that he has,” Harbaugh said. “I think that’s still private and his concern.”

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Ojabo addressed the situation himself while the team was in London. He grew up in Scotland, so he spoke about how nice it was to have family to lean on as he rehabbed an injury that, as of yet, had “no timetable.” Even so, he promised “I’ll be back.”

For the next three weeks, there were no changes in the situation, but Harbaugh said he thought there’d be an announcement “soon” on Nov. 6.

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Meanwhile, the Ravens started to see some production from unexpected sources. A late free-agent signing, Jadeveon Clowney, and a midseason free agent signing, Kyle Van Noy, have pushed the outside linebackers back into the top-five on the team in sacks. Clowney is second on the team with 7.5, while Van Noy has six.

At 32 and 30, respectively, Van Noy and Clowney aren’t the answer to the Ravens’ concerns about the future of the pass rush. Odafe Oweh, a 2021 first-round selection, worked through an early season ankle injury and has registered four sacks in eight games — while narrowly missing on several chances to add to that total.

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Oweh’s friend, Ojabo, however, will not be coming back from his ankle injury, suffered two weeks later. Instead, his season ends at three games, one sack and five tackles, and he will need another big offseason to once again try to prove he’s part of the Ravens pass-rushing future.

giana.han@thebaltimorebanner.com

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