The return of franchise left tackle Ronnie Stanley is still TBD, Head Coach John Harbaugh said Monday.
After suiting up in Week 1 in Las Vegas, Stanley has sat out the past five games. The Ravens didn't place him on injured reserve as Stanley reportedly visited a doctor to examine his surgically repaired ankle from last year's season-ending injury.
According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport's report on Sept. 29, the plan after the doctors visit was for Stanley to rehab for a "couple weeks with hopes of returning sooner than later."
Harbaugh was asked Monday whether there's been any resolution with Stanley.
"I think we're nearing one, but I don't have anything to announce at this time," he said.
Even without the All-Pro left tackle, the Ravens have won five straight games and have the NFL's fourth-ranked offense. Baltimore has protected Lamar Jackson well in recent weeks and the rushing attack had one of its best days Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Harbaugh said that "both tackles were phenomenal" Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium, as Alejandro Villanueva and Patrick Mekari gave up a combined one sack and two pressures. Chargers edge Joey Bosa had his lowest-graded game of the season, per Pro Football Focus.
The question becomes what would happen when/if Stanley does return to the field. That would bump Villanueva out of the left tackle spot, but would he return to right tackle, where he had a tough time in Week 1 against the Raiders, or would Mekari remain in that spot?
Harbaugh had strong praise for the job Mekari has done this season, even after shifting from the interior of the offensive line to right tackle.
"I've seen a guy that's just playing the position, really, in all honesty, about as well as you could expect it to be played. I mean, he's getting the job done," Harbaugh said.
"I couldn't be more pleased with him – run blocking, pass protection – [and] his versatility, obviously, but he's locked in at right tackle, and I couldn't ask for a better player there right now."
Ravens Didn't Intend to Give Rashod Bateman So Many Snaps
Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman said he wouldn't throw first-round rookie receiver Rashod Bateman into the fire in his NFL debut, but Bateman ended up playing 45 snaps – just six fewer than Marquise "Hollywood" Brown.
Bateman made four catches for 29 yards in his debut, with all four grabs going for first downs.
"To see 45 snaps, it was surprising. There's no question about it," Harbaugh said. "I don't think that was really the plan, either, but he was playing so well. He came out there and just did a great job."
Harbaugh said Bateman has some assignment and alignment things to work out, and coaches will surely be on him this week after a drop led to an interception, but Harbaugh was pleased overall..
"It wasn't too big for him. He handled the speed of the game just fine," Harbaugh said. "So, it's a really good start."
No Update on Latavius Murray, But Ravens Have Depth
Running back Latavius Murray left Sunday's game with an ankle injury in the third quarter and did not return. On Monday, Harbaugh said he didn't have an update right now on his status.
Murray has been the team's lead running back the past three weeks, and he had already posted nine carries for 44 yards against the Chargers, including the game's first touchdown. It was a season-high 4.9 yards per carry for Murray.
This would sound impossible a month or so ago after three season-ending injuries at the position, but the Ravens have good depth at running back, which would soften the impact of a potential absence for Murray.
Devonta Freeman had his best game yet with nine carries for 53 yards and a touchdown and Le'Veon Bell got into the end zone for the first time this year. Baltimore also has Ty'Son Williams available and ready to play.
"We've thrown a lot at them, because there was a lot in our offense, and they've had to learn a lot," Harbaugh said. "But they bring a lot to the table already, in terms of understanding knowledge. They're playing their styles, they're fitting them into our scheme, and they've done a great job – all three of those [veteran] guys."
Ravens Cornerbacks Were 'Gloves' on Chargers Wideouts
The Chargers have two of the top wide receivers in the NFL in Mike Williams and Keenan Allen, but they were handcuffed by Baltimore's cornerbacks.
Allen finished with five catches for 50 yards and Williams had two for 27. Williams couldn't hang on to two clutch passes – one on fourth down when matched up with Marlon Humphrey, and another on a third-down slant in which Josh Bynes applied a big hit.
"They have two great receivers, and both of those guys were taken out of the game by our corners," Harbaugh said. "They did a great job. Marlon [Humphrey] played excellent, and so did Anthony [Averett]. They were gloves pretty much the whole game."
It's particularly noteworthy for Averett, who bounced back from a tough performance the week before against the Indianapolis Colts.
Averett was targeted seven times and surrendered just four catches for 44 yards, per PFF. Humphrey gave up just two receptions and 19 yards on six targets. The Chargers went at Humphrey both times on fourth down deep in their own territory and came up 0-for-2.
"On that [fourth-down] play, we had matchups, and we have to give credit to them. They won their matchups," Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley said.