There will be plenty of focus on the Ravens' offensive line Sunday with the coaching staff having several lineup options to consider.
Against the New England Patriots in Week 10, the game began with Patrick Mekari at right guard and D.K. Fluker at right tackle, but it ended with Ben Powers at right guard and Mekari at right tackle. Meanwhile, starting center Matt Skura had a couple of poor snaps that were costly during a frustrating loss.
Without getting into who will start at each position, Head Coach John Harbaugh said Friday that he expects the offensive line to rise to the occasion Sunday against the Tennessee Titans.
"The offensive line had a good week of practice," Harbaugh said. "The expectations are high for those guys. We expect to go out there and play well."
The Ravens haven't lost two straight games since Weeks 3 & 4 of last season. Harbaugh believes the consistency that the players have established during practice will pay dividends.
"They practiced well, the whole team really practiced well," Harbaugh said. "I'm really impressed with the way our guys practiced. That's how you become a good football team. We're judged on wins and losses at the end of the day, but the process is very important to us as players and coaches because we understand what that leads to."
Derek Wolfe Leading By Example
If Calais Campbell (calf) and Brandon Williams (ankle) can't go Sunday, it will put more responsibility on the other defensive linemen. Derek Wolfe has shown he can handle an extra load. Two of his three highest snap count totals have come during the last two games – 49 snaps against the Patriots and 51 snaps Week 9 against the Indianapolis Colts. He has only exceeded that during the opener against the Cleveland Browns, when Wolfe played a season-high 52 snaps.
Wolfe has a season-high seven tackles against the Patriots, consistently winning his battles up front.
"Derek Wolfe played really well in that New England game, and I'm expecting the same thing for this one," Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale said.
When the Ravens signed Wolfe as a free agent, they expected him to add toughness and experience to the defense and he has delivered on both counts. Facing the Titans' physical attack led by running back Derrick Henry will be another occasion where the Ravens will need Wolfe at his best.
"He's a captain for this game," Harbaugh said. "He's been a dominant force in there, exactly what we thought we would get when we signed him in the offseason. Just a leader, hard worker, a really talented guy and glad he's on our team."
Patrick Ricard Sees Replacing Nick Boyle as Group Effort
Sunday will be Baltimore's first full game without tight end Nick Boyle, who suffered a season-ending knee injury against the Patriots. One way the Ravens may deal with Boyle's absence is for Pro Bowl fullback Patrick Ricard to take more snaps at tight end to assist starter Mark Andrews. But Ricard said replacing Boyle isn't a one-man job.
"He really is a big part of our identity," Ricard said. "I think it's going to be a group effort from everybody on offense to try to replace what he did for this offense. I can only do so much and I'm going to do what the coaches ask me to do. We trust every guy here to step up and expand their roles in ways they haven't done, because Nick has done it for such a long time and at a high level."
The Ravens signed veteran tight end Luke Willson to the practice squad this week to join practice squad tight ends Sean Culkin and Xavier Grimble. If any of them are promoted to the 53-man roster against the Titans, Ricard believes they will be ready.
"It's exciting for them to have this opportunity to step in a role and play," Ricard said. "They all had a great of practice. I'm excited to see who it's going to be and who's going to play."
Ricard Provides More Details on Food Delivery Escapade
Teammates and fans were amused when Ricard went on social media to provide details of his food delivery being swiped by a neighbor. The food was delivered to the wrong house, and Ricard described the heist. He was asked to elaborate on Friday.
"I asked him, 'Why did you steal my food?''' Ricard said. "I have a picture of it sitting right here, and it's not here.' He started kind of stuttering, didn't know really what to say.
"He finally gave me my meal, but it was already on a paper plate. He was about to start eating it. It was only outside for about 10 minutes. We kept talking, I told him who I was. He ended up giving me my appetizer and dessert."
Ricard said the mother of his neighbor later knocked on the door to make amends, apologizing and offering to pay for his meal.
"Everything's all good," Ricard said.