Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh announced today that the team is “nearing resolution” of left tackle Ronnie Stanley’s ankle injury, which ended the All-Pro’s 2020 season and is threatening to do the same this year as well.
Though Stanley has long been expected to rejoin the Ravens at some point this season, Harbaugh’s comments today may mean that the winds have shifted on Stanley’s ability to come back.
Harbaugh didn’t offer any specifics regarding the resolution of Stanley’s injury situation, only saying, “I don’t have anything to announce at this time,” per ESPN’s Jamison Hensley.
Paired with the Ravens’ successful waiver claim of offensive lineman Brandon Knight from the Dallas Cowboys, Harbaugh’s update has fans and observers concerned that Stanley could be lost for the season.
Stanley originally injured his ankle during a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers last November, working hard this offseason to return to playing shape.
He managed to start against the Las Vegas Raiders in the Ravens’ season-opener, but allowed nine pressures, suggesting that Stanley was still shaking off the rust. It turned out to be much worse, as the Notre Dame product hasn’t played or practiced since Week 1 due a setback to his ankle.
Reports since the setback have been mixed, with good signs, such Stanley avoiding surgery, and bad ones, like the Ravens signing multiple offensive tackles to the practice squad.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweeted on September 29 that Stanley “will continue to rehab for a couple weeks with hopes of returning sooner rather than later,” but after three weeks, the 2016 first-round pick has yet to even practice with the Ravens.
Ravens Claim OT From Dallas
The Ravens did reinforce their offensive line today, adding Brandon Knight after the Dallas Cowboys waived the guard/tackle on Saturday, per Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic.
Knight went undrafted out of Purdue University in 2019, landing in Dallas where he appeared in seven games as a rookie, including one start at right tackle.
He saw more action last season after Tyron Smith underwent season-ending neck surgery, starting nine games at left tackle, earning an overall grade of 48.5 from Pro Football Focus. He showed flashes of his potential, especially against in Week 15, when Knight only allowed two pressures and zero sacks against a strong San Francisco 49ers offensive line.
But the ex-Boilermaker had his fair share of struggles as well, four or more quarterback pressures on four separate occasions, including a brutal Week 17 matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals during which Knight allowed seven pressures and two sacks.
With last week’s injury to offensive guard Ben Cleveland, Knight will likely serve as depth for both the guard and tackle positions, with experience on both sides of the offensive line.
Stanley to IR?
With the latest announcement from Harbaugh, plus Knight’s addition to the 53-man roster, many observers are expecting bad news from the Ravens the next time they update Stanley’s status.
A move to the injured reserve list would open up a roster spot for more depth on the offensive line, while leaving the door open for Stanley to return this season.
Losing Stanley for additional time wouldn’t be devastating to the Ravens this season, so they may opt to hold him out until his injury is fully (and properly) healed, rather than risk career-threatening damage by rushing him back.
Zrebiec offered his expertise on the matter, tweeting, “If he was nearing a return, I think that would have been said. Don’t expect that news to be good.”
The Ravens’ offensive line has stepped up admirably in Stanley’s absence, helping propel quarterback Lamar Jackson to some of the best passing games of his career.