The Baltimore Ravens may have just lost one starter to injury on Sunday, but they’re poised to get another back for Thursday night’s Week 10 matchup against the Miami Dolphins.
Tight end Nick Boyle was activated from injured reserve to the 53-man roster on Tuesday, November 9, according to the NFL’s official transaction report, setting the stage for his return to the field after last year’s season-ending knee injury.
The 270-pound tight end returned to practice last month and was thought to be ready to play in Week 9 against the Minnesota Vikings, but with two games in five days, the Ravens opted to hold him out.
Head coach John Harbaugh told media today that Boyle is “in the mix” to make his 2021 debut against the Dolphins, which would be his first NFL game in 361 days, as noted by the Ravens’ Ryan Mink.
“I think he will be ready for Thursday,” said Harbaugh, who has led the Ravens’ to a 6-2 record this season despite a brutal rash of injuries.
Boyle is one of the many players that the Ravens are hoping to get back this season, with defensive end Derek Wolfe and cornerback Chris Westry also expected to return in the coming weeks.
“He brings a lot to the table for us: catching the ball, blocking. He’s doing it all for us,” continued the 2019 MVP, who has been doing it all himself for the Ravens this season.
Boyle has been a limited participant in Baltimore’s practices for the last two days, according to the Ravens’ official injury report, suggesting that even if he does play on Thursday, his snap count will likely be carefully monitored. But even in a limited role, Boyle’s powerful blocking ability and underrated receiving skills can still have an impact for the Ravens’ offense.
Ricard, Andrews Excelling in 2021
Ricard has been asked to do more than any other fullback in the NFL this year to help offset Boyle’s absence and injuries across the offensive line. He’s played 344 snaps this year, 58.5% of the Ravens’ total snaps on offense, by far the most of any fullback in the league.
But he’s more than just a blocker, showing off his hands with three catches for a career-high 35 yards against the Vikings in Week 9. All three receptions came on the same drive, including a one-yard touchdown that kicked off Baltimore’s 14-point second-half comeback.
Andrews, meanwhile, is averaging 70.0 receiving yards per game, most of any tight end in the NFL. But he’s also stepped up as a blocker, earning a 76.9 run blocking grade from PFF, behind only teammate Eric Tomlinson Jack Doyle of the Indianapolis Colts.
Tomlinson filled in for Boyle last season and has continued in the same role in 2021, with a league-leading 85.6 PFF blocking grade. He was moved back to the practice squad last week, but was elevated for Sunday’s game, making a key catch during the Ravens’ game-winning drive in overtime.
Ravens’ 2021 Fifth-Rounder Cut by Patriots
With Boyle hurt to start the year, fifth-round draft pick Ben Mason was believed to be a potential contributor for the Ravens this season. However, the fullback out of Michigan disappointed in the preseason and was ultimately waived during final roster cuts.
After clearing waivers, Mason opted to join the New England Patriots’ practice squad instead of staying in Baltimore with the franchise who drafted him. However, he was cut by the Patriots on November 9, per the NFL’s official transaction report.
The Ravens’ other fifth-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, cornerback Shaun Wade, ended up in New England as well, via trade, but neither Wade nor Mason have played a single snap for the Patriots this season, per Jonas Shaffer of The Baltimore Sun.