The Ravens' offensive line has faced many challenges this season, and the process continues.
During Sunday's loss to the New England Patriots, two errant snaps by Matt Skura in rainy conditions were costly.
In the third quarter, Skura's off-target snap sailed past Mark Ingram II, who was in the Wildcat formation on fourth-and-1. Another bad snap skipped low past Lamar Jackson and led to a 16-yard loss, killing a fourth-quarter drive when the Ravens trailed by just six points had ample time to go ahead.
Skura was dealing with a cut on his thumb in Week 9 against Indianapolis, but Head Coach John Harbaugh said Skura's hand did not cause the poor snaps in New England.
"The hand injury is not a factor," Harbaugh said. "The snaps concern me. That's very costly in the game and it's a tough deal. That's a hard situation, but Matt know he's got to get those snaps back there. Nobody feels worse about it than he does."
With Pro Bowl left tackle Ronnie Stanley (ankle) out for the season and starting right guard Tyre Phillips (ankle) on the injured list, the Ravens have shuffled their offensive line and they made more moves against the Patriots. D.J. Fluker started at right tackle, but he was replaced during the game by Patrick Mekari, who switched from right guard to right tackle when Ben Powers entered the game at right guard.
Harbaugh didn't say who would start on the offensive line when the Ravens host the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. But this will be an important week of practice for the unit, and Harbaugh liked what he saw when Powers and Mekari were in the game together.
"That will be part of the process in terms of what we do this next game," Harbaugh said. "I'm probably not going to be talking too much about that this week. We really have no reason to do that. They did a pretty good job, it's on the tape. We'll just see we what we do. I would just say this. We're a work in progress right now with the injuries and the offensive line, and we're working on it."
Harbaugh Updates Ravens Injuries
The Ravens were already banged up and left New England with more major injuries, the most serious being tight end Nick Boyle's season-ending knee injury.
Brandon Williams left early with an ankle injury, backup cornerback Terrell Bonds injured his knee, and Pro Bowl cornerback Marlon Humphrey was in obvious pain late in the game.
Williams' ankle, combined with Calais Campbell already being sidelined with a calf injury, hurt the Ravens in the trenches and opened the door for the Patriots' power run game.
"Calais will be day-to-day here going forward with the calf," Harbaugh said. "We'll see about this week as we go. Brandon Williams we'll see as we go. Possibly a week, maybe more. It'll be touch-and-go for Sunday."
Harbaugh gave a positive update on Humphrey but Bonds will miss time.
"Terrell Bonds will probably be a couple of weeks," Harbaugh said. "Humphrey, he got looked at, got treatment. He's going to be okay."
Defensive Line Prepares for Stern Test
The Ravens' defensive line injuries couldn't come at a worse time with the Titans' run game on deck.
Nobody needs to remind the Ravens that running back Derrick Henry is a load to handle. He rushed for 195 yards against Baltimore during last year's playoffs, and he is perhaps the NFL's most physical runner. The Ravens had serious issues stopping the Patriots' run game Sunday night without Williams and Campbell, but after looking at the tape, Harbaugh saw some bright spots regarding the defensive line play.
"Justin (Ellis) played well," Harbaugh said. "Justin Madubuike did a good job. Broderick Washington did a good job. Each of those guys thought they had a couple of plays they wanted to have back. But for the most part those guys played well, probably better on tape than I thought watching the game itself. They were in there fighting pretty hard and did pretty well."
Tennessee stays committed to the running game even when falling behind, feeling that sooner or later Henry will break off positive runs. The Ravens will welcome back Campbell and Williams if they can play against the Titans, but if they can't, the Ravens know they still must disrupt Tennessee's rushing attack.
"We're going to work really hard at that," Harbaugh said. "The guys that are healthy will be playing. I have full confidence in those guys to get the job done. It's a good group, especially the young guys that done well and have proven themselves. We're nine games in now. They understand what they need to do. It's an offensive line and a running back that are built to do what they do. We're going to have to be at our best to get it stopped. I'm confident we will."
Boyle's Injury Could Lead to Roster Move
Losing Boyle for the season leaves Mark Andrews as the only true tight end on the 53-man roster. The Ravens have two tight ends on the practice squad, Sean Culkin and Xavier Grimble, and Pro Bowl fullback Patrick Ricard can also play tight end. The Ravens could also elect to sign a free agent. Harbaugh said the Ravens were sorting out their options.
"We've got some plans on that," Harbaugh said. "We'll just see as we go. We've got some guys on the practice squad. We had a player in for a workout today as you probably saw. Pat can take on a bigger role certainly. We'll have a good plan for that."
Harbaugh Gets No Explanation on Weird Spot
On a third-and-1 during the fourth quarter, the Ravens appeared to stop Cam Newton short on a quarterback sneak, and one official initially seemed to spot Newton short. But after several spots of the ball, the Patriots were awarded a first down as the official moved the ball ahead of his foot.
Harbaugh did not agree with the spot, but said it didn't make sense to challenge the call.
"They don't give you any explanation on something like that," Harbaugh said. "It's very arbitrary. We thought it was short. I thought it was short on tape watching it later. But that's not something that would get overturned unless it's just clear-cut. You can't see the ball in those situations usually, you couldn't see the ball on replays. If they can't see the ball and exactly where it's at, they're not going to overturn that."