The Baltimore Ravens have had to go for most of the past two weeks without C.J. Mosley, their starting inside linebacker and perennial Pro Bowler. He suffered a bone bruise early in the team’s second game and missed the rest of that contest, as well as all of the next.
Unfortunately, the Pittsburgh Steelers will not be lucky enough to miss out on him. the fifth-year veteran is expected to return for the divisional matchup Sunday night, and he brings with him not only playmaking ability but the ever-so-important signal-calling responsibilities.
Mosley recorded 474 tackles over the course of his first four seasons, to go along with eight sacks, at interceptions, and six forced fumbles. He also has 30 passes defensed. And he has produced against the Steelers, having picked off Ben Roethlisberger before. He has done enough to earn their respect.
“He’s one of the best linebackers in the game”, the man who threw that interception said. “In terms of playmaking, obviously, when he’s your signal caller, getting guys set up, his experience—he’s just a phenomenal football player, maybe even better guy. I just think that when he’s out there, he’s a difference-maker”.
The defense fell apart when he was lost in the second game of the year, but they rebounded last week after getting Eric Weddle into that signal-caller role. Weddle had worn the green dot in the past while he was with the San Diego Chargers.
That won’t be a problem tomorrow with Mosley back. The defense will naturally be more comfortable and familiar with him in that role, though, than with Weddle despite his experience. When you’re used to hearing one voice for four years, you develop a certain relationship.
That was Ray Lewis for a long time. He was a Hall of Fame talent, one of those sort of players that you don’t expect an organization to be able to replace. But Mosley has certainly done a very good impression of him.
Which makes it all the more surprising that the organization did not manage to sign him to a long-term contract extension this offseason. The 2014 first-round draft pick is playing under his fifth-year option, and is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent in 2019.
He has only missed two games over the course of his career prior to this season. Perhaps this brief stint without him will remind the front office of just how valuable he has been to their defense over the past four years and what it would mean to be without him.