John Harbaugh: Ronnie Stanley Is Destined to Be One of the NFL's Top Tackles


Ronnie Stanley missed practice Wednesday because he had a wisdom tooth removed.

In a rare exception, ordinary fans can relate to the pain of a football player.

But don't worry, Stanley was back on the practice field Thursday and is still a smart, talented and rising NFL left tackle who is proving to be one of the best this season.

"In my opinion, he is destined to be one of the top tackles – if not the top tackle – in the league, and that should be his goal," Head Coach John Harbaugh said.

That's a pretty strong endorsement, and one that motivates the second-year blocker.

"I'm very grateful to have a coach that has that type of belief in me," Stanley said. "That's just more pressure on me to perform, be there for my teammates and be that rock-solid guy."

Stanley may already be one of the best.

According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), he's the third-best left tackle in the league this year, trailing Cleveland Browns 10-time Pro Bowler Joe Thomas and Philadelphia Eagles nine-time Pro Bowler Jason Peters.

In run blocking specifically, PFF ranks Stanley as the league's top offensive tackle. The Ravens rushing attack has had a major rebound this season, and it's had a lot of success running behind Stanley.

Over the last three games, he has allowed just three quarterback hurries. No hits, no sacks. He's given up one sack this season.

"Ronnie is a hard worker," veteran right tackle Austin Howard said. "He's always diligent about his technique out there on the practice field, week-in and week-out. He's a young guy, but he definitely lives up to the player that he can be. He gets better each and every week."

Stanley's success this season is a continuation of how he finished his rookie year. Per PFF, the No. 6-overall draft pick was the best left tackle in football over the final five weeks of last season.

Still, Harbaugh said Stanley has made "big strides" this year.

"I think it's just being calmer in my position," Stanley said. "It's being confident out there that I can hang with the best of them."

Stanley said it's helpful to match up with guys a second time. For example, he struggled with Steelers veteran James Harrison in their first meeting last year, but Stanley surrendered nothing the second time around.

Stanley has a new, and tough, challenge this week with Minnesota Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen, whose seven sacks are tied for the fourth-most in the league. Last week, the Vikings pass rush (outside linebacker Anthony Barr, specifically) knocked Green Bay Packers Aaron Rodgers out for perhaps the rest of the season with a broken collarbone.

"It's a huge challenge," Stanley said. "They have a great front seven, one of the best defensive lines in the whole NFL."

With that said, Flacco doesn't bat an eye. He was asked this week how safe he feels with Stanley as his blindside protector.

"Ronnie is awesome," Flacco said. "He's a young kid that wants to know it all. When you have a guy like that standing to the left of you, it definitely makes you feel comfortable, because you know he's on top of it all, and he's going to do the right thing when the time comes."

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