Daniel Faalele has strictly been a right tackle during his football career. That's what he played in high school. That's where he stayed in college. The Ravens gave him some training camp reps at left tackle – just in case – this summer, but they drafted him to play right tackle.
The dire situation arose Sunday at Gillette Stadium after Patrick Mekari suffered an ankle injury six snaps into the game. Ja'Wuan James was lost to a torn Achilles in Week 1 and Ronnie Stanley isn't ready for game action yet in his return from ankle surgery.
That left Faalele grinding it out in a tough environment against Matthew Judon and a strong Patriots pass rush. Faalele had some tough reps early on and was credited with two sacks allowed, but finished with a very respectable grade of 59.8 from Pro Football Focus.
"As the game went on, he really settled in," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "The two rushers they had, obviously coming off the edges, were both very good football players. It just seemed to me that once we kind of got settled down … A loud stadium, silent count – [he] really hadn't been practicing the silent count all week with the ones.
"Once he kind of got the timing of that down and got a feel for the speed of the game, he seemed to get his confidence into the second half where I think he felt like he belonged out there, and started playing really well. So, that was a big plus for us. The whole offensive line played extremely well, and he's a good example of that."
Faalele could be the starter in Sunday's big Week 4 game against the Bills, too. It's unknown when Stanley will feel ready to play and Mekari is dealing with a sprained ankle. According to reports, it doesn't sound like Mekari will be sidelined for too long.
Another rookie who could see more action upcoming is third-round defensive tackle Travis Jones. Jones made his debut after a hyperextended knee put him on the shelf for about a month. While he didn't crack the box score, Jones got solid marks (61.2) from PFF.
"I thought he played well," Harbaugh said. "Travis is going to be a very impactful player. It was his first outing out there, and he played hard. He's going to learn a lot from it. He played well enough for the first time out, you said he played well, but of course we have high expectations for him and he's only going to get better from here."
Jones got 44% of the snaps in the defensive line rotation and could see even more if Michael Pierce is sidelined for an extended period. Harbaugh did not have the MRI results back on Pierce's injured arm and is awaiting word from doctors on the severity of the injury.
The Ravens also got big contributions from first-round rookies Kyle Hamilton (clutch forced fumble) and Tyler Linderbaum (best game yet). After rookie mistakes cost Baltimore in the Week 2 loss to the Dolphins, the rookies were a big part of the Ravens' Week 3 win in New England.
Greg Roman Keeping Defenses Off Balance
Through three weeks, the Ravens lead the league in points per game (33.0) and are fourth in yards per game (380.3).
Of course, Lamar Jackson's torrid start to the 2022 season is a major reason why. Jackson leads the league with 10 touchdown passes and is tied with Christian McCaffrey for the fourth-most rushing yards (243).
But Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman also deserves some of the credit, as Baltimore's passing game – even without Stanley – has been the offense's primary driver.
"Obviously, I believe Greg is doing a great job. I always feel that way. I think he's always done that," Harbaugh said.
"If you ask any defensive coordinator or head coach in this league, they'll tell you that this offense is hard to defend. So, that's a pretty a good measuring stick right there. Now, executing and then keeping it going and coming up with ways to keep people off balance, that's what coaches do, that's what coordinators do. I really believe Greg is one of the very best in the business at that."
Ravens Aim to Clean Up Quarterback Runs Allowed
The Ravens are accustomed to seeing their quarterback rip off chain-moving runs, but they don't like seeing other teams' quarterbacks do the same.
Not the most fleet footed quarterback, Mac Jones still had five carries for 31 yards, including 3-yard touchdown, in Sunday's game. The Patriots had 145 rushing yards overall and averaged 5.2 per carry, but it was the QB runs that most bothered Harbaugh.
"First of all, the quarterback got kind of garbage yards – I'd call them – that shouldn't have happened," Harbaugh said. "Those are the ones that our guys will be most upset about. Those are yards that really just … They aren't even rushing yards, really; they're pass-rushing yards. And we've got to do a better job with our rush lanes."
While he's no Jackson, the Bills' Josh Allen is a frequent and effective runner who Harbaugh called an "even much bigger challenge." Allen has 113 rushing yards so far this season, using his size to sometimes power through defenders. Defending the quarterback run will be a focus this week at Ravens practice.
Harbaugh Not Surprised Jerry Rosburg Came Out of Retirement
Former Ravens special teams coordinator and assistant head coach Jerry Rosburg is now in Denver, hired last week as a senior assistant helping first-year Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett with game management.
Rosburg retired from the Ravens following the 2018 season to spend more time with his family, but Harbaugh wasn't surprised that he returned to coaching.
"I knew Jerry wanted to kind of get back in at some capacity. He's up there in the 'Great North' as we call it in Michigan, so I think he needs to get a break from the woods every now and then," Harbaugh said with a smile.
"But he's a great pick for Denver. We play them [in Week 13], obviously, so that is in the back of my mind. But he'll be very helpful. I think he already was last night for them. He did a great job. So, it's not surprising. [He's] a great coach, [and he] knows the game inside and out."