OWINGS MILLS — Jarret Johnson had his surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder after last season.
The Baltimore Ravens’ aggressive outside linebacker has dealt with back spasms for months.
And he reported to training camp roughly 20 pounds lighter than usual due to the time he missed lifting weights this offseason due to the shoulder problem.
Consequently, his production wasn’t at its normal level for the majority of this season. And Johnson wasn’t able to muscle blockers the way he’s accustomed to and he missed some tackles.
Over the last few weeks, though, all of that has changed.
Johnson has signaled that he’s back to his old self, recording a season-high 10 tackles Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"He’s probably the healthiest here that he’s been at this stage of the season," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "And you’re right probable the healthiest he’s been so far this year. We’ve done a good job of kind of cutting back some of those reps in practice."
Johnson had five tackles and forced a fumble against the Carolina Panthers two weeks ago.
Against the Buccaneers, defensive coordinator Greg Mattison deployed Johnson as a down pass rusher on third downs.
He didn’t sack Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman, but he did harass him into several incompletions.
"I thought Greg did a nice job of putting him in position where they had to account for him in pass protection and find him a little bit more, balancing he and [Terrell Suggs] up a little bit that way," Harbaugh said. "Jarret is a high-motor guy. He’s all over the field. 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."
Johnson has recorded 50 tackles this season and a half-sack after a career-high six sacks and two interceptions last season.
The Tampa Bay game was a particularly strong one for Johnson, but he wasn’t entirely satisfied.
"We did a lot of good things, but we also did a lot of bad things that we can learn from," Johnson said. "I wish we hadn’t given up that last drive, but then we put them away and that’s championship football. We made some stupid errors. I had a couple of bad errors, but overall we played four quarters and got the win."
The Ravens also held powerful Buccaneers rookie running back LeGarrette Blount to 55 yards on 13 carries.
It was one week after allowing Panthers runner Mike Goodson to rush for 120 yards.
"This kid really brings it," Johnson said of Blount. "I was really impressed with how hard he ran, big, physical guy. We always take it as a personal challenge, especially last week giving up all those yards."
BOLDIN LIMITED: Pro Bowl wide receiver Anquan Boldin caught three passes for 27 yards against Tampa Bay, and he said he was dealing with bracket coverage at times.
"A little bit, a little bit," Boldin said.
Against the Carolina Panthers, Boldin caught three passes for 29 yards. He was limited to two catches for 28 yards against the Miami Dolphins, but did catch five passes for 50 yards in a recent loss to the Atlanta Falcons.
For the season, Boldin has been productive with 51 receptions for 652 yards and six touchdowns.
However, his numbers have gone down lately. He’s not upset, though, about his involvement.
"No, I’m fine," Boldin said. "As long as we’re 8-3, that’s all that matters."
At this point, the Ravens don’t anticipate any griping from Boldin who has maintained a team-first attitude.
"I think that goes without saying," Harbaugh said. "I just think the question gets asked so many times you just start kind of rolling your eyes at it. It’s like, ‘How many times do the guys have to answer this question?’
"Guys want to win. Guys want to contribute. Guys want to be a big part of it. They want to catch passes. They want to block. They want to do all the things that help you win. It’s very simple to me."
QUICK HITS: During his radio program, Harbaugh offered no substantive injury update on injured fullback Le’Ron McClain (sprained ankle) or what it means that the team signed fullback Jason McKie. "You can read it any way you want," Harbaugh said. "Jason McKie is a guy we like. He has a lot of special-teams experience. He’s a good quality fullback." … The Ravens’ return game hasn’t been productive this year. Harbaugh attributed it to missed blocks and poor blocking. "The return game has been a disappointment," Harbaugh said. We’re going to keep working on it and it’s going to be a big factor down the stretch." … Harbaugh was complimentary of offensive guard Tony Moll, who has started the past two games with Chris Chester out with a lower leg infection. "Tony played solid football," Harbaugh said. "Tony gives you value because he can do a lot of things. He plays all five positions across the front. I thought he did a solid job at right guard." … Steelers coach Mike Tomlin told reporters today that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will start Sunday against the Ravens. Roethlisberger has a sprained right foot and is in a protective boot. If he can’t go, the Steelers would likely start Byron Leftwich. … Last year, the Ravens led the NFL with 1,094 penalty yards and ranked third in penalties with 115. This year, the Ravens are tried for 25th in the league with 60 penalties for 487 yards. Conversely, the Steelers rank 10th in penalties with 72 flags for 653 yards. "Our guys have done a very good job, and our coaches have done a really good job of emphasizing technique when it comes to the major penalties, holding and defensive pass interference and personal fouls, as it comes to player safety," Harbaugh said."When it comes to the major penalties, holding, defensive pass inference and personal fouls when it comes to player safety, those are the big ones. Right now, we need a lot of pre-snap penalties cleaned up on offense. That’s been our biggest issue."