The Baltimore Ravens‘ season-opening win over the New York Jets on Sunday, September 11, 2022, was the first game that veteran offensive tackle Ja’Wuan James started and appeared in since December 8, 2019, when he was still a member of the Denver Broncos. Unfortunately, it will be his last of the 2022 season after head coach John Harbaugh announced that he suffered a torn Achilles tendon.
James was making his first career start at left tackle in place of All-Pro blindside protector Ronnie Stanley who had been ruled out of the game the data before. He had to be carted off the field in the first half after the lower leg injury and taken to the locker room where he remained for the rest of the game. This marks the second year that the former first-round pick of the Miami Dolphins has suffered the same injury to the same leg.
He sat out the 2020 season due to COVID concerns and suffered his first torn Achilles last May before signing a two-year deal with the Ravens. James spent the 2021 season rehabilitating from his injury and transitioned to left tackle to serve as Stanley’s primary backup this year.
Impact on Roster Going Forward
The Ravens turned to do-it-all utility offensive lineman, Patrick Mekari, to finish the game at left tackle after James went down. It marked the fourth-year pro’s first regular season action at the position since college where he was a four-year starter at the University of California.
Mekari held up well against the likes of Carl Lawson and John Franklin-Meyers and will likely be the starting left tackle for the Ravens if Stanley isn’t available to play in their home opener in Week 2 when the Miami Dolphins come to town. With James out for the year, it likely means that Mekari will likely serve as the top swing tackle option when Stanley returns.
Veteran Morgan Moses will continue to start at right tackle and rookie Daniel Faalele, who was inactive for the season opener, will be dressed more consistently going forward to provide additional depth.
Kyle Fuller Suffers Knee Injury
James wasn’t the only veteran player that left the game with what appeared to be a serious lower extremity injury and didn’t return. The former two-time Pro Bowl cornerback and Baltimore native went down with a knee injury in the second half of the game after being pushed by Jets wide receiver Elijah Moore who committed offensive pass interference to get open.
Even though he didn’t need to be carted off the field like James, the way Fuller clutched his knee as he writhed in pain and the fact that the broadcast team was asked not to replay the replay of the injury suggests that it will be a major one in terms of severity. Harbaugh said that he will have an MRI on Monday to definitively determine the damage to his knee and a timetable for a possible return if he is not done for the season.
Fuller opened the game as the starting outside cornerback opposite Marlon Humphrey in place of Marcus Peters who was ruled out before the game and is coming off a torn ACL he suffered around this time last year. Thankfully, the Ravens aren’t in as dire straits at either offensive tackle or cornerback as they were in 2021 and have quality depth at both spots.
Peters could very well make his debut in next week’s home opener and the team still has second-year pro Brandon Stephens who had a solid game in Week 1 as well as fourth-round rookies Jalyn Armour-Davis and Damarion ‘Pepe’ Williams.