NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported today that Mekari is believed to have suffered a high ankle sprain on Sunday, though the third-year lineman is seeking additional feedback.
High ankle sprains typically take anywhere from four to six weeks to heal, according to Dr. Matthew Matava, former president of the NFL Physician Society. Such a return timeline would sideline Mekari for at least three games after their Week 7 bye and potentially more if he faces and delays or setbacks in his recovery.
Injury Stunts Solid Season for Mekari
It’s another devastating injury to the Ravens’ offensive line, which has already lost All-Pro Ronnie Stanley for the season. When Alejandro Villanueva moved over to left tackle as a result, Mekari stepped into the starting right tackle role, to surprisingly impressive results.
He’s only allowed two sacks and 10 total pressures all season, earning a 73.4 pass-blocking grade from Pro Football Focus despite difficult matchups against the likes of Von Miller and Joey Bosa. Mekari will be sorely missed by an offensive line that struggled against the Bengals’ front seven in his absence.
Second-year offensive lineman Tyre Phillips will likely start at right tackle moving forward.
Phillips replaced Mekari during Sunday’s game, but quickly gave up three pressures and failed to move the needle in the run game. He’s listed as the second right tackle on the depth chart, though he’s the currently backup for every offensive line position except center. Behind him, there is precious little tackle depth on the Ravens’ roster, with five offensive tackles listed on the practice squad, none of whom are particularly inspiring options.
OT Depth on Practice Squad
Undrafted rookie Adrian Ealy showed promise at right tackle during the preseason, but a suspension for performance-enhancing substances will keep him out until November 22, per Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic.
Former New York Jets guard James Carpenter could be an option, but he hasn’t played right tackle since his rookie season with the Seattle Seahawks in 2011. Though he did just arrive in Baltimore last week, the Ravens’ Week 8 bye could give the veteran extra time to get up to speed.
The Ravens clearly liked former first-round pick Andre Smith enough to activate him for multiple games this season, but not enough to add him to the 53-man roster once he maxed out his elevations from the practice squad. Instead, they elevated veteran David Sharpe, though he remained on the sideline after Mekari went down.
There’s also Jaryd Jones-Smith, though his utter lack of experience (zero offensive snaps in his career) make him more of an emergency option than anything.
The Ravens were supposed to have offensive tackle Brandon Knight after being awarded the former Dallas Cowboy off waivers, but he failed to report to the team. Knight later revealed, via a statement posted on Twitter, that he would be taking the season off to focus on his mental health.
Harbaugh Provides (Non)-Update
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh declined to provide any specifics regarding the severity of Mekari’s injury at a press conference today, potentially waiting for the second opinion Mekari is reportedly seeking.
The Ravens’ ever-worsening injury situation has clearly frustrated Baltimore’s longtime head coach, as almost every one of his press conferences includes multiple questions about injured players.
Back in September, Harbaugh grew so exasperated at a question regarding Stanley’s injury status that he told media, “My thoughts are that I’m not going to any make comments on injuries for the rest of the season,” per Sarah Ellison.
Of course, a head coach with 16 players on injured reserve cannot avoid all questions about his team’s health, but Harbaugh’s answers have become noticeably more terse as injuries have continued to mount this season, including a “We’ll just see where it goes” regarding Mekari.