The Baltimore Ravens won’t have their best offensive lineman and highest-paid offensive player when they travel to north Florida to play the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 12 after ruling out All-Pro left tackle, Ronnie Stanley, with an ankle injury that caused him to miss the entire week of practice.
“I don’t think Ronnie is going to make it to the game,” head coach John Harbaugh said in a press conference on November 25. “He’s just not going to make it.”
The elite blindside protector suffered the setback in the second half of their Week 11 win over the Carolina Panthers and was officially listed as out on the final injury report. The Ravens and Stanley avoided disaster when an MRI didn’t reveal any structural damage to his already surgically repaired ankle.
Thankfully, the Ravens have one of the top reserve offensive linemen in the league in Patrick Mekari who is capable and has starting experience at all five positions including at left tackle where he will be lining up in place of Stanley against the Jaguars.
“Every position he’s ever played, he’s played well,” Harbaugh said. “He’ll play well again in this game. He won’t be the only one playing; we’re going to be working guys in and all those kinds of things.”
“I feel like whatever they need me to be,” Mekari said. “Today’s it’s left tackle. I don’t know what tomorrow holds.”
The former undrafted gem started at left tackle in Weeks 2 and 3 until suffering a minor injury of his own in the first half of the team’s game against the New England Patriots. When Stanley returned to action in Week 5, he rotated with him until Week 8 and finished the game against the Panthers in Week 11.
“It’s definitely part of the routine, but starting is obviously different than being a backup,” Mekari said. “It’s another level of being locked in and bringing it to a whole new level and giving it my best.”
The only other player that was ruled out on Friday was fourth-round rookie cornerback Jalyn Armour-Davis who missed the entire week of practice with a hip injury. His fellow rookie, first-round defensive back Kyle Hamilton, who was recently named the highest-graded safety and rookie defender by Pro Football Focus also missed the entire week of practice with a knee injury but is listed as questionable to play. Starting quarterback Lamar Jackson is also listed as questionable with a hip injury but both he and Harbaugh said that he’ll be playing this week.
Gus Edwards Slated to Be Available in Week 12
The fifth-year running back made his long-awaited return from a torn ACL in Week 7 against the Cleveland Browns only to get banged up again on a short week in the team’s Week 8 win over the Tampa Buccaneers with a hamstring injury that caused him to miss the last two games.
He feels like he is finally ready to return and this time for good after being a limited participant in practice on Wednesday before practicing fully on Thursday and Friday.
“I feel good, man,” Edwards said. “Had a good week of progress, definitely made a lot of progress. I’m excited to see what happens.”
Both Edwards and Harbaugh thought that he was going to make his return last week against the Panthers up until the Friday before the game when he didn’t feel like he could be as effective as could be for the team they decided to hold him out for another week.
“I’m optimistic again this week, like I was last week,” Harbaugh said. “So, we’ll just have to see but I feel good about it.”
The Ravens have been fortunate enough to have gotten strong play from both veteran Kenyan Drake and fourth-year pro Justice Hill who rank second and third on the team in rushing with 390 and 220 yards respectively. In his shortlived return, Edwards recorded 131 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns on 27 carries in just 39 total offensive snaps.
“I always want to be out there with my guys,” Edwards said. “It felt like it was finally my time to be out there and we had a setback. But we’ve got to go over every obstacle.
He said his knee “feels great” and that his “hamstring is coming along well”.
“The only thing that makes it more difficult is I have to stay on top of both things now,” Edwards said. “I’m still rehabbing my knee and working on my knee.”
Top 3 Ravens Storylines for Week 12 vs. Jaguars
Will the offense get back on track?
After only being able to muster 13 points against the lowly Panthers in Week 11 and not scoring their lone touchdown until the fourth quarter, the Ravens will be looking to bounce back in a big way against a solid and talented Jaguars defense. They were held to their second lowset rushing total of the season last week with just 115 yards which was their fewest since Week 1 when they rushed for just 63 yards in a win over the New York Jets.
The return of Edwards will give the running game a much-needed boost, especially in short-yardage and goal-line situations. Veteran wide receiver Demarcus Robinson will be looking to build off his breakout game in Week 11 when led the team with nine catches for 128 receiving yards. This will also be All-Pro tight end Mark Andrews’ second game back from missing two games and after recording six catches for 63 receiving yards last week, he could be in store for an even bigger game against the Jaguars.
Will the defense continue to dominate?
In their two games since trading for two-time All-Pro inside linebacker Roquan Smith, the Ravens’ defense has been lights out and absolutely dominant albeit against a pair of underwhelming NFC South teams. After holding the New Orleans Saints to just 13 points and 243 total yards on offense, they clamped down even harder on the Panthers and nearly pitched a shutout, allowing just a field goal and yielding a season-low 205 total yards.
According to Pro Football Reference, the Jaguars’ offense ranks in the bottom half of the league in scoring and passing yards and is in the middle of the pack in total yards thanks to their rushing attack that is top 10 in yards, touchdowns, and yards per attempt on the ground. The Ravens have been elite against the run over their last three games having allowed less than 50 yards on the ground in each.
Will the Ravens avoid an upset over well-rested Jaguars?
Baltimore will be facing a 3-7 team for the second week in a row in Jacksonville except unlike the Panthers, the Jaguars are coming off a bye week and have had an extra week to prepare for the Ravens. While they had seven players listed on their final injury report, the Jaguars didn’t have any and are coming into this game essentially at full strength with the players on their current roster. With the easiest remaining strength of schedule, the Ravens will need to continue to take care of business against lesser albeit healthier opponents to extend their winning streak to five in a row and maintain their lead in the AFC North race with the formidable Cincinnati Bengals who they play the final week of the regular season.
Key Ravens Matchups for Week 12 vs. Jaguars
Patrick Mekari v Travon Walker
With Stanley out this week, Mekari is tasked with keeping the top overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft out of Georgia at bay in pass protection and moving him off the line of scrimmage in the run game. Walker predominantly lines up on the right side of the defense across from the left tackle so the two of them will be locking horns early and often. The Jaguars sometimes have him flip sides with Pro Bowl pass rusher Josh Allen was a top-10 pick in 2019 and even though they have just 5.5 sacks between the two of them in 10 games, both possess elite athletic traits that they could use to take advantage of a slightly undersized Mekari if he isn’t sound in his technique.
Marlon Humphrey v Kristian Kirk
While the Jaguars’ passing attack has underwhelmed this year as a whole thus far, Kirk has been the lone bright spot and their most productive player. Through 10 games, he leads the team with 83 targets, 52 receptions, 679 receiving yards, and seven receiving touchdowns which are tied with Amari Cooper of the Browns for the fourth-most in the league according to Pro Football Reference. Humphrey is having another All-Pro and arguably his best from a coverage standpoint. With his ability to dominate both in the slot and on the perimeter, he’ll likely be shadowing Kirk for most of the game, especially in high-leverage situations.
Ravens Pass Rush v Jaguars O-Line
The catalyst for the Ravens’ dramatic turnaround and recent dominance in addition to Smith’s arrival has been their front seven’s ability to generate consistent and relentless pressure on opposing quarterbacks. The charge has been spearheaded by veteran outside linebacker Justin Houston who leads the team in sacks with nine in just seven games. He has recorded a share of more of a sack in four straight games and a whopping seven in total over that span. This will mark six-time Pro Bowl defensive end Calais Campbell’s first time facing the Jaguars since they traded him to the Ravens in the 2020 offseason. The future Hall of Famer is just two sacks away from reaching 100 for his career and would love to reach that milestone against one of his former teams.
“That’s one of the few goals I set when I was a rookie, or really before I was a rookie and I knew I wanted to play in the NFL, of, ‘It would be really cool to get in that 100-sack club,'” Campbell said in a press conference on November 23. “That’s a rare club that only a select, special group has been able to do [and] get in. For me, it would be cool.”
Patrick Queen & Roquan Smith v Travis Etienne
The Ravens’ new dynamic duo in the heart of their defense will be facing one of the league’s most impressive, productive, and potent offensive weapons in the 2021 first-round pick. After missing all of his rookie year due to a Lisfranc foot injury, Etienne has been making up for lost time with 927 yards from scrimmage this season including a team-leading 725 rushing yards, and the eight-highest yards per carry with 5.5 according to Pro Football Reference. He also has caught 22 of his 31 targets for 202 receiving yards and 9.2 yards per reception.
“The guy is really good,” Campbell said. “The way he hits the hole, his acceleration, he has a different gear, right away, that is unique. A mean stiff arm, he’s a tough tackle, has great contact balance. Our coaches compared him to Alvin Kamara, but faster. That’s a good comparison because he really has that kind of balance where he’s just a tough tackle, but then that acceleration is so unique. He has pretty good vision. He’s an all-around back. He’s special.”
Smith’s first game as a Raven came against Kamara and the Saints in Week 9 and they were able to limit him to just 63 yards from scrimmage in 12 touches. Now that both he and Queen are playing 100% of the total defensive snaps, they’ll only be more overwhelmingly dominant and impactful.