Amid defensive struggles, Ravens cut 2017 third-round pick Tim Williams

October 01, 2019 | Luke Jones

After giving up 73 points and more than 1,000 yards over the last two weeks, the Ravens aren’t simply waiting around for their defense to improve.

Outside linebacker Tim Williams was waived Tuesday after playing a season-low seven snaps in Sunday’s 40-25 loss to Cleveland. The 2017 third-round pick had recently been challenged to step up his play after registering only two tackles and no sacks or quarterback hits over the first three games of the 2019 season. Williams did not register a statistic in Week 4 and was graded 91st among 102 qualifying edge defenders by Pro Football Focus through the first four games of the season.

“They need to be better. We need to get more pressure, more sacks from those guys,” said head coach John Harbaugh about Williams and fellow 2017 draft pick Tyus Bowser last week. “They’ll probably tell you they need more reps. I would say earn more reps by doing something about it.”

Williams, an Alabama product who registered 30 sacks in his collegiate career, was expected to play a more meaningful role this season after the free-agent departures of Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith. However, his defensive snap total fell from 30 in Week 2 to 15 in Week 3 and lower than rookie Jaylon Ferguson’s 22 in Week 4.

Nagging injuries and questions about his commitment contributed to Williams being active for just 15 games in his first two seasons. The 6-foot-3, 252-pound edge rusher registered only two sacks and 18 tackles in 19 career games for the Ravens.

This isn’t the first time the Ravens have shaken up their 53-man roster after poor defensive performances in recent years. Two days after giving up six touchdown passes to Ben Roethlisberger and Pittsburgh in 2014, Baltimore jettisoned cornerbacks Chykie Brown and Dominique Franks. Pass rusher Jason Babin and cornerback Rashaan Melvin were cut after Josh McCown threw for more than 350 yards in a 2015 home loss to the Browns.

A Tuesday ESPN report said the Ravens were working out a number of free-agent linebackers, a list that included former Raven and Super Bowl XLVII champion Josh Bynes, Mason Foster, Vincent Rey, and Dekoda Watson.

On Monday, Baltimore signed veteran inside linebacker L.J. Fort to take the place of injured rookie Otaro Alaka on the 53-man roster. Fort, 29, has appeared in 65 career games (three starts) with Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Seattle, and Cleveland.

“We’ve played against him quite a bit as you know,” Harbaugh said. “He’s played middle linebacker, played the ‘Mike’ quite a bit, been a starter for the Steelers on and off, a top-level special teams player. We’re very fortunate that he became available due to the injury situation up there in Philly, and he’s a fit for us, defensively and special teams-wise.”