After being labeled a bust in his first two seasons with the Ravens, Kamalei Correa looks to bounce back in a big way
Kamalei Correa may have finally found his niche with the Baltimore Ravens defensive unit. Correa was drafted in 2016 as the 42nd overall pick and was expected to add depth and effectiveness to a pass rush that desperately needed an injection of youth.
The Ravens coaching staff had other plans for the young edge rusher, though, as they had him make the transition to middle linebacker, an ill-fated move that made the middle of the field the Ravens’ Achilles’ heel for the past two seasons.
Correa looked like he had bottomed out without any real chance to shine and the world was against the third-year player out of Boise State.
Thursday night at Tom Benson stadium in Canton, Ohio, Correa finally made a difference.
He seemed to eternally struggle under the complexity of former Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees’ system, but now under new coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale, he can become what the Ravens have always wanted him to become.
Coming onto the field with a full head of steam and playing his most familiar position for the first time in two seasons, Correa picked off Bears quarterback Chase Daniel and returned it 19 yards to set up a Kaare Vedvik field goal, which ended up being the difference for the Ravens.
In addition to that mood-setting play, Correa also sacked the quarterback twice, the second of which forced a fumble and a turnover.
Head coach John Harbaugh called for Correa to break the huddle after the game, the first time he had been asked to do so in his young career.
If he can string together games like this in the preseason and let it carry into the 2018 regular season, Correa, Terrell Suggs and Matthew Judon could become some of the most effective pass rushers in the NFL.
In years past, Suggs has trailed off toward the end of the season and the emergence of Correa could give longevity to Suggs’ stamina this season, which would aid the Ravens in the stoppage of opposing rushing attacks, as Suggs is exceptional at edge-setting.
If the story keeps progressing this way for the 24-year-old, going from bust to breakout will become more and more of a reality, and will be not only good for Correa, but for a defense that needs him to step up in 2018.