Recent roster transactions and comments by head coach John Harbaugh indicate that a number of injured Ravens, including defensive end Derek Wolfe and cornerback Chris Westry, are likely to see the field sometime in November. Both players have returned to practice in the last 10 days, a much-needed boost for a defense that has struggled to tackle this season.
It seems like the first positive bit of injuries news out of Baltimore in weeks, as starting right tackle Patrick Mekari and inside linebacker Malik Harrison both sustained lower leg injuries in the last two weeks.
Many observers were predicting that the Ravens would add reinforcements at the trade deadline, but they seem content with their current group of players, especially with several returning from injury soon.
Fans are definitely excited to see some of their favorite Ravens return to the field.
The veteran defensive end was designated to return from the injured reserve list on October 26, according to the NFL’s official transaction report, and participated in his first practice since the preaseason on the same day. League rules give players who receive such a designation three weeks to be added back to the 53-man roster, so Wolfe will be on the active roster by November 16 at the latest.
Wolfe suffered a back injury during joint practices with the Carolina Panthers in August that has sidelined him for the Ravens’ first seven regular season games. He started eight games in his first season in Baltimore last year, emerging as one of the team’s best run defenders. The former Denver Bronco earned a 85.3 run defense grade from Pro Football Focus, but struggled to make an impact as a pass rusher, with only 11 pressures in nearly 400 pass rush opportunities.
The Ravens are allowing only 86.1 rushing yards per game, good for fourth-best in the NFL, but they’ve struggled with missed tackles all season. Wolfe, who only missed two tackles in all of 2020, will bring a much-needed physical element to the interior of Baltimore’s defense.
Wolfe did not practice today, per Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic, so it’s unlikely that Wolfe plays against the Vikings this weekend, and a short week before the Ravens’ Thursday night matchup against the Miami Dolphins could make it hard for the veteran to return by then. Barring any setback, Wolfe should be ready to play by Baltimore’s November 21 game against the Chicago Bears.
Westry has participated in practice for the last two days after being designated to return yesterday. That would mean he’ll be back on the active roster by November 23. Like Wolfe, Week 11 against the Bears is a likely return date for the physical cornerback.
After a standout preseason, Westry was expected to be a key contributor in the Ravens’ secondary after All-Pro cornerback Marcus Peters suffered a torn ACL before the regular season.
But an injury against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 1 stunted his momentum, despite a solid performance both in pass coverage and run defense. With Baltimore’s secondary struggling in recent weeks, Westry’s physicality will be vital in minimizing missed tackles. He could also provide an answer to their struggles in covering tight ends this season, as he has the size, strength and speed necessary for those matchups.
Ja’Wuan James & Patrick Mekari
The Ravens opted not to add starting right tackle Patrick Mekari to the injured reserve list after suffering a high ankle sprain against the Cincinnati Bengals, a positive sign that he’ll return sooner rather than later.
Ryan Mink of BaltimoreRavens.com tweeted today that Mekari “should be back in the coming weeks,” but the Ravens have offered no official updates on his status.
“He would have a chance in December,” said Harbaugh, who noted that James has been fully involved in team meeting.
“He’s been running,” added Harbaugh with a smile.
Any kind of contribution from James this season would be a coup for the Ravens, who jumped at the chance to sign the veteran offensive tackle after the Broncos released him after his injury.
After suffering a gunshot wound to his left calf this weekend, linebacker Malik Harrison was placed on the Non-Football Injury list on Monday, sidelining him for at least three weeks.
But Harbaugh was optimistic that his young inside linebacker would be ready to play once he’s eligible to return, saying today that Harrison’s absence would be “short-term.”
“We know guys are coming back,” said Harbaugh, who expects Harrison to play again this season.
Daelin Hayes & Ben Cleveland
Rookies Daelin Hayes and Ben Cleveland remain on the injured reserve list after injuries earlier this season have limited their first-year playing time.
Both players are eligible to be activated from injured reserve, but the Ravens have yet to provide updates on either rookie. While Hayes and Cleveland are expected to rejoin the team before the end of the season, such a return will likely happen later rather than sooner.
Mink wrote today that Cleveland should also be back in “the coming weeks,” but that’s the most information available on the former Georgia Bulldog.