The Baltimore Ravens had two key offensive starters return to practice yesterday, with running back Latavius Murray and right tackle Patrick Mekari both participating for the first time in a few weeks, per the team’s official injury report.
Murray hasn’t played since sustaining an ankle sprain against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 6, but Le’Veon Bell’s release on Tuesday suggests that he is nearing full health. The former New Orleans Saint has been reliable, if not spectacular, leading Baltimore’s backfield with 59 carries despite missing three games.
Mekari also suffered an ankle sprain, his against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 7, which held him out for the Ravens’ past two games. He has been vital to the Ravens’ injury-ravaged offensive line this season, with last Thursday’s collapse against the Miami Dolphins serving as evidence of Mekari’s importance.
Both were limited participants in their two practices this week, indicating that the Ravens aren’t ready to throw them into full-time action yet. Don’t expect either to be active on Sunday against the Chicago Bears. Nevertheless, their activity is encouraging for a Baltimore roster that has been hemorrhaging players all season.
Even if Murray misses a fourth consecutive game, Devonta Freeman will assume lead back duties after settling into the Ravens’ offense with at least nine carries in three of the last four games. After a message from head coach John Harbaugh this week, Ty’Son Williams could be in line for more carries, while offensive coordinator Greg Roman mentioned potential practice squad elevation Nate McCrary as another option today, per Jonas Shaffer of The Baltimore Sun.
Future Offensive Line in Baltimore?
Without Mekari, the Ravens will once again employ a makeshift offensive line, with Tyre Phillips will likely starting a second consecutive game at right tackle. He could move back to left guard if recent signing Cedric Ogbuehi is ready to play.
Rookie guard Ben Cleveland could also be in the mix, as he returned to practice last week after an injury against the Indianapolis Colts forced him onto injured reserve in October.
“He’s going to be an option coming up. I don’t know if he’ll make it this week or not, but he’d have a chance,” said Harbaugh on Monday.
Offensive tackle Ja’Wuan James was seen on the practice field working out with head athletic trainer Ron Medlin, according to Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic. Though it’s exceedingly unlikely he could return at center, he could still be a “wild card” addition to the Ravens’ offensive line with extensive experience at right line.
Bozeman Praises Mekari
Starting center Bradley Bozeman spoke to media today upon his return to practice from an illness on Wednesday.
He singled out Mekari for praise, calling the versatile lineman a “computer chip,” for his football I.Q.
“Pat’s a great player, he’s always been a great player,” said Bozeman, who has played with Mekari ever since he entered the league in 2019.
“When I’m not for sure, I know he has my back,” added Bozeman, who credited Mekari for helping keep the Ravens’ offensive line together despite multiple reshuffles already this season.
The Ravens never envisioned Mekari as a full-time right tackle, but based on his performance this season, he may have earned a shot at the starting job next year.