Head Coach John Harbaugh is encouraged about the health of the Ravens’ offensive line after a much-needed bye week.
Left tackle Ronnie Stanley (foot) and right tackle James Hurst (back) both missed the Ravens’ last game, a 23-16 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Nov. 4. Harbaugh hopes Stanley and Hurst will be able to return Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals, although it was too early Monday to know for sure.
“They are progressing well,” Harbaugh said during his weekly press conference. “We’ll just have to see. I can’t sit up here and predict what’s going to happen six days from now. I’m encouraged by the progress. Having those guys back would be helpful. Those are both good players and they’re both important to us. We’d like to get them both back if we could.”
Jermaine Eluemunor made his first start for the Ravens at left tackle against the Steelers, but Stanley’s return would be a boost to the offensive line with the Ravens (4-5) needing a strong November and December to make the playoffs.
Rookie right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. made his third consecutive start against the Steelers and may continue to start even after Hurst returns. Hurst can play both tackle and guard, making him valuable as a backup right tackle, and an option as the starting left guard, should Brown remain the starter.
Veteran right guard Marshal Yanda has been happy with Brown’s progress.
“He’s a physical dude, he brings a lot of energy and excitement to the game,” Yanda said. “He’s a young player that just needs to keep getting better. As a rookie, you have a lot of room to improve, every single game you should be getting better and better. I think he’s definitely taken that approach. I think the kid’s going to be get better each week.”
Regardless of who plays, Yanda said the offensive line could not use injuries as an excuse. The Ravens may need to win six of their last seven games to make the postseason.
“I know those guys are working hard to get back as quick as they can,” Yanda said. “Getting injured is 100 percent a part of this game. You have to find a way to fight through that. Is it frustrating? Yes. But it’s the next man up. You have two or three guys down, that happens. Look at the Redskins. I think they lost both of their guards to season-ending injuries in one game. It happens.”
Bengals’ Decision to Fire Defensive Coordinator Will Not Alter Ravens’ Preparation
The Ravens will be the first team to face Cincinnati with Head Coach Marvin Lewis taking over the reigns as defensive coordinator. Cincinnati fired former defensive coordinator Teryl Austin on Monday, in the aftermath of their 51-14 home loss to the New Orleans Saints. The Bengals rank last in the NFL in total defense and have yielded at least 500 total yards the past three weeks. However, the Bengals defeated the Ravens, 34-23, in Week 2 and have won two straight against Baltimore.
Harbaugh does not expect the Bengals to make drastic changes.
“I think their defense is in place. We know the players, we know the scheme, we wouldn’t expect any dramatic changes in the scheme,” Harbaugh said. “Coach Lewis is a defensive coach. He’s always got his imprints on the defense. So we expect him to stay with his philosophy, and we’ll just have to see what we get on Sunday and play against it.”
Ravens Know Bengals Wide Receiver Tyler Boyd Is a Playmaker
Bengals star receiver A.J. Green is not expected to play Sunday, but that could mean more targets for wide receiver Tyler Boyd, who has also hurt the Ravens in the past. Boyd is having his best season with 52 catches for 685 yards and five touchdowns, establishing himself as a consistent playmaker.
Boyd’s biggest moment against the Ravens game during the final game of 2017, when his game-winning 49-yard touchdown on fourth-and-12 in the final minute lifted the Bengals to victory and knocked the Ravens out of the playoffs.
Green caught three touchdown passes against the Ravens in Week 2, but Boyd also had six catches for 91 yards and a touchdown.
“He’s a guy that we have to stop this week,” Ravens cornerback Brandon Carr said. “They move him all over the field. Even with A.J. healthy he’s been out there making plays. He’s a guy we’re going to have to be aware where he is at all times.”
The Bengals scored 28 points in the first half in Week 2, and Carr said it was imperative for the Ravens’ defense to set the tone quickly on Sunday.
“They made some plays on us, got off to a quick start,” Carr said. “We need to get off to a fast start, get out crowd into the game.”
CB Maurice Canady Eligible to Begin Practice This Week
Ravens cornerback Maurice Canady (thigh) has been designated to return from injured reserve, making him eligible to begin practice Wednesday. Canady has not played since Week 1 and his return would add to the team’s cornerback depth. This is Canady's third season with the Ravens after being drafted in the sixth round in 2016 out of Virginia.