Ravens Activate Starting Lineman, Make Move on Le’Veon Bell for Week 6

Ravens Le'Veon Bell

Getty Baltimore Ravens running back Le'Veon Bell carries the ball against the Denver Broncos in Week 4.

The Baltimore Ravens have activated Week 1 starting offensive guard Tyre Phillips from the injured reserve list today, per the NFL’s official transaction report, indicating that he’ll be ready to play against the Los Angeles Chargers on Monday.

Phillips suffered a knee injury during the Ravens’ regular season opener against the Las Vegas Raiders and had to be carted off the field. He was replaced by third-year offensive lineman Ben Powers for the remainder of the game, which the Ravens lost in overtime.

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Powers split time at left guard with rookie Ben Cleveland for the Ravens’ next three games, with neither player able to distinguish himself enough to take over the position full-time.

Phillips’ return couldn’t come at a better time, however, as Cleveland left Monday night’s against the Indianapolis Colts with a knee injury, leaving the Ravens shorthanded on the offensive line once again this season.

All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley has not practiced since an early-season setback to the ankle injury that ended his 2020 season. There’s no timeline for Stanley’s return, though he is expected to rejoin the Ravens at some point this season.

The Ravens’ offensive line has been especially weak in the knees this season. Offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva left Baltimore’s Week 4 matchup with the Denver Broncos with a knee injury as well, though he was able to start against the Colts in Week 5. He’s officially listed as questionable for Sunday’s game, but he is expected to start.

Phillips returned to practice last week, but was unable to progress quickly enough to play against Indianapolis.

There’s no clear indication if Phillips or Powers will start at left guard against the Chargers. The Ravens’ seeming lack of confidence in Powers suggests that Phillips could get the nod, though Baltimore may opt to take the cautious route to minimize risk of a setback.

Le’Veon Bell Activated for Sunday

Baltimore also elevated running back Le’Veon Bell from the practice squad, indicating that he’ll make his home debut as a Raven on Sunday.

Bell was signed in early September after a trio of the Ravens’ running backs suffered season-ending injuries, but he didn’t suit up until Week 4 in Denver. He played 20 snaps against the Broncos, just over a quarter of the Ravens’ total on offense, recording 11 yards on four carries and impressing head coach John Harbaugh in pass protection.

With Bell’s elevation, one of the Ravens’ other three running backs–Latavius Murray, Devonta Freeman and Ty’Son Williams–will be deactivated on Sunday. That will most likely be Williams, who was inactive in Week 4 when Bell made his season debut, though Freeman could be held out instead.

The running back shuffle comes less than a week after ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Ravens received trade inquiries regarding their running backs. While Murray appears to have taken over lead back duties, the pecking order for the rest of the backfield remains unclear, so any one of Williams, Freeman or Bell could be on the trade block.

Offensive tackle Andre Smith was also activated from the practice squad for the fifth straight game, where he will serve as the Ravens’ swing tackle.

Bateman To Make NFL Debut

The Ravens also officially activated rookie wide receiver Rashod Bateman, the 27th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, setting the stage for his much-anticipated NFL debut.

Bateman suffered a groin injury during training camp, sidelining him until this Sunday against the Chargers.

The timing of his return is especially fortuitous for Baltimore, as veteran wideout Sammy Watkins was ruled out due to a hamstring injury suffered against the Colts on Monday night.

Don’t expect Bateman to be a one-for-one replacement for Watkins, though, as his relative inexperience and preseason injury will limit his snap count.

“I don’t think we’re going to throw him into the fire every play,” said offensive coordinator Greg Roman on Thursday, per Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic.

Instead, Bateman will rotate with second-year receivers Devin Duvernay and James Proche, who have impressed in limited opportunities this season.

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