The Baltimore Ravens‘ injury situation just went from bad to worse, as CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora reported today that the team is “preparing to be without All Pro LT Ronnie Stanley this week and possible far longer.”
The Ravens’ 2016 first-round pick is undergoing medical testing to evaluate the extent of a setback in his recovery from an ankle injury that ended his 2020 season.
Stanley started at LT on Monday night for the Ravens’ regular season opener but showed clear signs of rust, allowing nine pressures and earning a 27.7 pass blocking grade from Pro Football Focus.
The Ravens hoped that Stanley’s return would bring much-needed stability to an offensive line that failed to adequately protect quarterback Lamar Jackson last season.
Stanley said in August that he expected to be “full go” for Week 1, but it appears that he’ll need more time before he is fully healthy.
PFF’s Doug Kyed added that the “situation currently is still ‘up in the air,'” noting that Stanley played the entire game on Monday night, but missed practice on Wednesday.
Stanley Setback Shuffles Ravens’ OL
If Stanley is unable to take the field for the Ravens’ Week 2 matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs, Alejandro Villanueva will slide over to left tackle after starting the season at right tackle.
Villanueva struggled mightily against the Las Vegas Raiders on Monday night, allowing 10 pressures and getting beat for two sacks. He was rated PFF’s worst pass-blocking offensive tackle during Week 1 with a 13.4 grade.
He should do better on the left side, where he started 90 games for the Steelers during his six years in Pittsburgh, including 16 games in each of the last five seasons.
Offensive coordinator Greg Roman addressed the possibility of Villanueva playing left tackle on Sunday night today, saying “If that does happen, I feel great about it. He’s played many years there,” per Sarah Ellison.
Offensive lineman Patrick Mekari will likely start at right tackle with Villanueva shifting to left tackle. Mekari’s five-position versatility has been crucial to helping the Ravens deal with offensive line injuries in recent years, and he’ll have to step up once again in Stanley’s absence.
The 2019 UDFA posted a 86.5 pass blocking grade from PFF last season, though a vast majority of those snaps were split between center and left guard.
Ravens Bring in OL Depth
The Ravens re-signed offensive tackle Andre Smith to their practice squad on Wednesday, per the NFL’s official transaction report.
The former first-round pick spent the preseason with the Ravens, but was cut by the team on August 23. The Ravens later added Smith to their practice squad, but released the veteran once again to make room for Devonta Freeman.
With Freeman elevated to the 53-man roster alongside veteran defenders Anthony Levine Sr. and Justin Ellis, the Ravens had room to bring Smith back to provide depth to an injured offensive line.
Beyond Stanley’s setback, the Ravens are also dealing with a knee injury to Tyre Phillips, who started at left guard against the Raiders. They placed the Mississippi State product on short-term injured reserve on Wednesday.
Sarell spent the preseason with the Ravens, but was released as part of the team’s 53-man roster cuts.
The Ravens only have seven healthy offensive linemen on their roster, so a game day elevation from the practice squad for Smith, Sarell or undrafted rookie Adrian Ealy would not be out of the question against the Chiefs.