Ravens Lose 3 Top Blockers for Key AFC North Matchup vs. Browns

Ravens Patrick Ricard

Getty Baltimore Ravens fullback Patrick Ricard looks on ahead of a 2021 game.

The Baltimore Ravens will be without three key players for their crucial Week 14 matchup with the Cleveland Browns, with fullback Patrick Ricard, tight end Nick Boyle and right tackle Patrick Mekari all listed as inactive, per the Ravens’ Twitter account.

Mekari was not expected to play in Cleveland, as he suffered a hand injury in Week 13 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, with second-year offensive lineman Tyre Phillips taking his place.

Boyle was also considered a long shot to take the field, having missed all but one of the Ravens’ practices over the last two weeks, as well as their December 5 game in Pittsburgh. Boyle is still working his way back to full health after a season-ending knee injury in 2020, and he’s also dealing with a non-COVID illness, per the Ravens’ official injury report.

But Ricard is an extremely disappointing absence for a Baltimore offense that has been missing All-Pro left tackling Ronnie Stanley and co-starting running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards all season. He was originally listed as questionable with a back issue on the injury report, but the Ravens updated his status on December 11 to add a knee injury that threw his status into doubt.

Ricard was considered a game-time decision to play against the Browns, but Childs Walker of The Baltimore Sun wrote of his pregame workout, “Patrick Ricard just walked off the field. Hard to read body language, but he was not moving optimally during his workout.”

The dual absences of Boyle and Ricard will leave the Ravens dangerously thin at tight end and fullback, with Mark Andrews, Eric Tomlinson and Josh Oliver as the only available players. While Andrews and Tomlinson have played well this season, neither is as powerful of a blocker as Ricard or Boyle, who have been instrumental in the Ravens’ league-leading rushing attack over the past four seasons.

Ricard Having Pro Bowl Season

Boyle’s absence for most of this season has forced Ricard into an especially large role in the Ravens offense. His 527 snaps this season ranks ninth among all offensive players on the Ravens and leads all fullbacks in the league, per Pro Football Focus.

But that massive workload hasn’t affected Ricard’s effectiveness; he has the highest overall PFF grade of any NFL fullback this season, and his 88.1 run blocking grade leads all fullbacks and tight ends this year.

Jonas Shaffer of The Baltimore Sun reported on December 9 that Ricard had the most fan Pro Bowl votes of any fullback, putting him on track to make his third consecutive Pro Bowl appearance.

Browns Rule Out Harrison

The Browns announced that safety Ronnie Harrison would be out against the Ravens with an ankle injury, perhaps giving Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson a chance at a bounceback game after several rough performances.

Harrison caught one of Jackson’s four interceptions in Week 13, though the Ravens were still able to pull off a victory.

The Browns also confirmed that starting rookie cornerback Greg Newsome would also miss the Week 14 matchup, potentially giving Ravens receivers Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown and rookie Rashod Bateman better matchups against the depleted Cleveland secondary.

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