On Monday, the Baltimore Ravens announced the corresponding roster move following Tony Jefferson’s placement on the injured reserve. Baltimore’s goal in recent days has been to bolster the defense, and the Ravens found more depth in Jihad Ward. Ward played for Illinois in college, where he earned the attention of NFL scouts. In his final two years with the Fighting Illini, he recorded 104 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 5 fumble recoveries, 3 forced fumbles and 3 passes defended. After his impressive collegiate career, Ward was drafted in the second round (44 overall) by the Oakland Raiders.
Ward played for the Raiders from 2016 to 2017. After his second year with the organization, the Raiders traded Ward to the Dallas Cowboys. In the exchange, the Raiders acquired wide receiver Ryan Switzer, now with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Despite being traded for, Ward did not make the initial 53-man roster after the 2018 preseason. After being released by the Cowboys, Ward signed with the Indianapolis Colts practice squad. Ward was elevated to the Colts’ 53-man roster in mid-September but was placed on the injured reserve in October. Ward remained on the Colts’ roster until he was cut on October 1, 2019.
The Ravens signed Ward to add depth to a thin defensive line group. The Ravens entered the 2019 season with just five defensive linemen. This left the Ravens in a predicament when Brandon Williams missed the week four matchup against the Browns because of a knee injury. After that incident, the Ravens resolved to prevent a defensive lineman shortage in the future. Not only did Baltimore sign Jihad Ward to the 53-man roster today, but the Ravens also elevated the 2018 seventh-round pick, Zach Sieler from the practice squad.
Ward is likely the final piece in the Ravens’ reshuffling of the defense for a while. Baltimore’s defense was exposed in recent weeks and the Ravens responded by removing the disappointments from the roster and adding new, intriguing players. All that is left is to see a significant change in play. Will it come? The only way to find out is to wait.