The Ravens made several roster moves Saturday ahead of Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears, fortifying their offensive line and placing a veteran defensive player on injured reserve.
Rookie guard Ben Cleveland (knee) was activated to the 53-man roster from injured reserve, while veteran outside linebacker Pernell McPhee (knee) was placed on injured reserve, meaning he will miss a minimum of three games.
Cleveland was playing regularly at left guard earlier this season before he was carted off the field Oct. 11. A third-round pick from Georgia with a physical style, Cleveland played a second-high 34 snaps Week 4 and competed for the starting job during training camp. He was sharing the job with Ben Powers before his injury.
Starting right tackle Patrick Mekari (ankle) is questionable for the Bears game, but he practiced on a limited basis all week and is moving closer to returning after being injured in Week 7. Head Coach John Harbaugh said Friday that the improving health of the offensive line gives the unit more depth and flexibility. Tyre Phillips has started at right tackle since Mekari's injury, but Phillips also has experience at guard.
"Yes, we have more options, for sure," Harbaugh said. "Guys are practicing hard. Patrick practiced, and Tyre has been moving around [to] different spots and continues to improve.
"When guys miss, whether it's guys like Tyre, or the Ben Cleveland's, or those young guys, when you miss three, four, [or] five weeks, or you miss a lot of training camp, it's hard to get those back. The game moves fast, and the more you see, the more you learn to anticipate and you're not a step behind. I think that's what guys like that are learning right now. So, the more Tyre can practice, or Ben can practice, or any of those young guys, it's really important."
McPhee had already been ruled out against Chicago after he did not practice Thursday or Friday. He played 25 snaps against the Miami Dolphins in Week 9 and has 14 tackles, one sack and two quarterback hits this year. In his 11th NFL season, McPhee was a member of Baltimore's last Super Bowl-winning team and is a respected locker room leader.
With McPhee out, the Ravens could activate Jaylon Ferguson for Sunday's game. Veteran linebacker Joe Thomas was also elevated from the practice squad for Sunday's game. The Ravens signed Thomas to the practice squad Oct. 19 after he was released by the Houston Texans, but Thomas has not seen action this season.
Guard/defensive tackle Khalil McKenzie has been signed to the 53-man roster after being signed to the practice squad on Sept. 8. McKenzie has been active for three games this season, playing 15 snaps with three tackles. With defensive tackle Brandon Williams (shoulder) ruled out for the third straight game Sunday, McKenzie adds depth to the defensive line.
In another roster move, veteran guard James Carpenter was released from the practice squad.