The Baltimore Ravens have placed defensive tackles Brandon Williams and Justin Madubuike and outside linebackers Justin Houston and Jaylon Ferguson on the COVID-19 list, the team announced on Twitter.
Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic first broke the news that the Ravens learned of a positive test this morning and began contact-tracing per the NFL’s COVID-19 protocol.
ESPN’s Jamison Hensley reported that Ferguson was the first player to test positive, with Williams, Madubuike and Houston all following as close contacts.
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The spread of the virus appears to be contained to the four players, allaying fears that the Ravens would experience a team-wide outbreak like the one that sidelined 20 players last season.
Head coach John Harbaugh announced that the team’s vaccination rate was above 90% on September 6, according to Jonas Shaffer of The Baltimore Sun.
Still, the Ravens have dealt with a rash of injuries to start the season, with 15 players already on the injured reserve list, including key players like running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards, tight end Nick Boyle and cornerback Marcus Peters.
Ravens to Rely on Depth at OLB, DT
With two outside linebackers and two defensive lineman on the COVID-19 list, the Ravens’ front seven will be shorthanded against the Lions.
That leaves just Calais Campbell, Justin Ellis and Broderick Washington manning the interior of the Ravens’ defensive line on Sunday, with recent practice squad signing Kahlil McKenzie a likely game day elevation to the active roster.
Outside linebacker Pernell McPhee is listed as questionable after missing today’s practice due to a shoulder injury, though it’s worth noting that McPhee usually gets a veteran day on Fridays anyway, per Zrebiec. The Ravens hope the versatile veteran will be ready to play on Sunday, as he can also kick inside to play on the defensive line.
Rookie OLB Daelin Hayes was a full participant in today’s practice after sitting out the Ravens’ first two regular season games with a knee injury. Ravens fans will be excited to see the Notre Dame product make his regular season debut after Hayes’ breakout preseason.
Both McPhee and Hayes are expected to play on Sunday alongside fellow outside linebackers Odafe Oweh and Tyus Bowser. The team could also activate veteran OLB Chris Smith from the practice squad to play against the Lions.
Ravens’ Secondary Ready for Sunday
Elliott suffered a concussion during the second quarter of Week 2’s upset of the Kansas City Chiefs and missed the rest of the game. Young also sustained a knock to his ankle late in Sunday night’s game after making a momentum-shifting interception in the third quarter.
Smith has yet to see the field this season after struggling to come back from a low ankle sprain suffered in training camp.
All three are expected to play on Sunday, bringing much-needed stability to a secondary that has been shaken up by injuries to start the season.
Two-time All-Pro cornerback Marcus Peters suffered a torn ACL on September 9, ending his season before it even began.
Preseason breakout Chris Westry was placed on injured reserve last week with a torn meniscus, though the cornerback is expected to return later this season.
Marlon Humphrey has also dealt with a back issue, though that has not stopped the 2019 All-Pro from playing 99% of the Ravens’ defensive snaps so far this season.
Barring any additional setbacks, the Ravens defense should be in good shape heading into a matchup against the Lions, who scored the 12th-most points in the NFL across the first two weeks of the regular season.