Potential Late-Season Reinforcement to Ravens’ O-Line Makes Practice Debut

Ravens Ja'Wuan James

Getty Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Ja'Wuan James blocks for a teammate while a member of the Miami Dolphins.

The Baltimore Ravens could have a late-season addition to their offensive line in the form of offensive tackle Ja’Wuan James, a veteran with more than 60 NFL starts at right tackle under his belt.

James was designated to return to practice by the team on December 8, according to an official announcement on Twitter, giving the Ravens 21 days to activate him to their 53-man roster and play this season. The six-year veteran participated in his first practice in Baltimore on the same day, per Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic.

James’ debut couldn’t come at a better time for the Ravens, who just lost starting right tackle Patrick Mekari for a few weeks due to a hand injury sustained against the Pittsburgh Steelers on December 5. The Ravens have endured multiple injuries at offensive tackle in 2021, with Mekari previously suffering an ankle sprain and All-Pro Ronnie Stanley getting knocked out for a second consecutive season.

James was released by the Denver Broncos after tearing his Achilles tendon in May and signed a two-year deal with the Ravens in June to begin his rehabilitation in Baltimore.

Head coach John Harbaugh seemed to be accurate in his November 3 estimation that James “would have a chance in December.”

James has more than 3,500 career snaps in the NFL, most of them coming at right tackle, and he’s consistently earned solid grades from Pro Football Focus at the position in his career.

James a ‘Long Shot’ to Return This Year

But Ravens fans should keep their optimism about James’ return in check, as he hasn’t played more than 65 snaps in a season since 2018. Before the Achilles tear that sidelined him this season, he opted out of the 2020 NFL season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A knee injury limited him to just three appearances for the Broncos in 2019, per the Ravens’ Ryan Mink, so it’s safe to say that James will need some time to shake off the rust.

Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic addressed the “obvious anticipation” about James’ potential return, saying that the Ravens are in “wait-and-see mode.”

“He has a long road back still,” added Zrebiec, who called James a “long shot” to return this season because, “He hasn’t played in over two years. He’s going to need a while to ramp up.”

Still, James’ return to practice is a glimmer of hope during a tough week for the Ravens that combined insult – a loss to the division rival Steelers – and injury – a season-ending torn pectoral muscle for All-Pro cornerback Marlon Humphrey.

Westry, Seymour Return to Practice

There’s more good news for Ravens fans, as two cornerbacks returned to practice on the heels of Humphrey’s injury.

Chris Westry and Kevon Seymour both practiced today, according to the Ravens’ injury report. Westry missed the Ravens’ Week 13 game in Pittsburgh due to a thigh injury, while Seymour was stuck on the COVID-19 Reserve list. Both players will be key in keeping the Ravens’ badly-depleted secondary afloat for the rest of the season.

In addition to Humphrey, the Ravens have also lost All-Pro cornerback Marcus Peters, starting safety DeShon Elliott and undrafted rookie Ar’Darius Washington to season-ending injuries after entering the 2021 season with one of the league’s top secondaries.

But Harbaugh isn’t planning to let the Ravens’ latest injury derail the rest of their season.

“Our guys are going to handle adversity well,” he promised on December 8.

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