Ravens Activate Defensive Tackle With Calais Campbell Questionable

Ravens Calais Campbell

Getty Baltimore Ravens defensive end Calais Campbell pressures the quarterback during an October 2021 game.

The Baltimore Ravens have elevated defensive tackle Isaiah Mack for their Week 12 matchup with the Cleveland Browns on Sunday night, giving their defensive line some extra depth in case Calais Campbell or Brandon Williams are unable to play.

Mack arrived in Baltimore on November 18, shortly after head coach John Harbaugh announced that defensive end Derek Wolfe would not play this season. He flashed some pass-rushing potential as a rookie, recording six pressures and two sacks with the Tennessee Titans in 2019. But he struggled last year both in Tennessee and as a member of the New England Patriots, earning only a 38.5 overall defensive grade from Pro Football Focus for his efforts.

The 6-foot-1, 299-pound Mack profiles as a rotational player along the Ravens’ defensive line, though his relative youth–he’s just 25 years old–and Baltimore’s history of developing defensive tackles–like now-Minnesota Viking Michael Pierce–suggests that he could improve with additional playing time. For now, though, Mack will remain as a depth player until he earns more snaps, or unless the Ravens lose another interior defensive lineman to injury.

Campbell Could Miss First Game of 2021

Mack’s elevation comes in the wake of a concussion to veteran defensive end Calais Campbell, who hasn’t practiced this week. He’s listed as questionable on the Ravens’ official injury report for Sunday’s game, and would have to clear the NFL’s concussion protocol in order to take the field.

John Harbaugh told media yesterday that Campbell’s progress this week has been “very encouraging,” but noted, “Of course, you have to go through the process and you never can predict that exactly.”

The longtime Ravens head coach also added that Campbell’s 15 years of NFL experience and cerebral approach to football means that missing a week of practice won’t prevent him from playing. He’s been the most consistent player on the injury-riddled Ravens defense this season, earning an 86.6 overall defensive grade from PFF that’s fourth among all interior defenders.

His loss would be devastating against the Browns’ strong ground attack, led by a powerful offensive line and one of the NFL’s best running back duos in Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, the latter of whom was added back to the active roster today.

Williams Questionable for Week 12

The Ravens are also facing the prospect of a fourth consecutive absence from defensive tackle Brandon Williams, who hasn’t played since a Week 7 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. He was a limited participant in practice on Wednesday and Thursday, but missed Friday’s practice entirely, raising concerns about a potential setback to his shoulder injury.

The hulking 336-pounder has been the anchor of Baltimore’s run defense in seasons past, but he has not looked the same this year. His 30.8 PFF run defense grade is among the worst in the league, potentially making his injury a blessing in disguise for the Ravens.

Even average play from veteran Justin Ellis and 2020 fifth-rounder Justin Madubuike is an improvement over Williams, with the added benefit of getting Madubuike more playing time. The second-year defensive tackle was named as a 2021 breakout candidate, but has shown only flashes of his ability as a game-wrecking disruptor on the interior of the defensive line.

But after recording just five pressures in the Ravens’ first six games, he’s tallied four pressures in the last three games, per PFF, indicating that he could heat up as Baltimore attempts to make the playoffs for a fourth consecutive season.

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