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Ravens linebacker Jarret Johnson hasn’t been in the spotlight as much as last season, when he notched a career-high six sacks and two interceptions.
But the outside linebacker was all over the field versus Tampa Bay, logging a season-high (a Ravens-high) 10 tackles and pestering Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman throughout the game.
Johnson (0.5 sacks) has personally chided himself for not contributing more pressure opposite linebacker Terrell Suggs (7.5 sacks) and behind defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (5 sacks).
But that has changed the past two games. Even though Johnson hasn’t logged any sacks during the time, he’s given the Ravens a more consistent pass rush heading into a critical game versus Pittsburgh. The Steelers’ banged-up offensive line has surrendered 12 sacks over the past three games.
“Jarret is a high-motor guy,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “He plays 100 miles per hour. As well as he played, he’s going to be mad at two plays that he thinks he can do better at. That’s just what you love about him.”
Harbaugh attributed Johnson’s success to better health at this point of the season, which is unusual since it’s Week 13 and bumps and bruises have no doubt piled up. He’s in much better shape than last year, when he grinded through a shoulder injury that required an offseason procedure.
“He’s probably the healthiest here that he’s been in the three years [I've been here] at this stage of the season,” Harbaugh said. “And you’re right, probably the healthiest he’s been so far this year.”
The Ravens have cut back on some of Johnson’s practice reps and Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison has also worked in other players, such as defensive end Paul Kruger.
“Greg did a nice job of putting [Johnson] in position where they had to account for him in pass protection and find him a little bit more, balancing he and Suggs up a little bit that way,” Harbaugh said.