Who says the fourth preseason game doesn’t matter? It will certainly matter for the Ravens’ offensive line.
The Week 1 starter at left guard remains undetermined, as Baltimore prepares for Thursday night’s preseason finale against the Washington Redskins.
James Hurst, Jermaine Eluemunor, Ben Powers, Bradley Bozeman and Patrick Mekari are all under consideration. But Head Coach John Harbaugh said Tuesday that no final decision had been made.
He also indicated that the Week 1 starter wouldn’t necessarily earn the right to start all season.
“Oh yeah, it’s open still,” Harbaugh said. “I talked to a couple of guys this morning about it. My mind is still open. I’m sure there’s people in the building, coaches and stuff, that have their opinions. But I’m very open right now.
“It will probably, in all honesty, remain a competition until somebody establishes himself as the established starter. There’s a difference between being a starter and an established starter. That person’s going to have to continue to earn that by how they play during the regular season.”
Harbaugh said all the players involved are good players, but that the coaching staff will be looking to see how the left guard candidates respond.
“What’s the advice? Have a great practice today,” Harbaugh said. “Go out there and practice your best today just like you’ve been doing, play your best on Thursday and let the chips fly. We’ll see what happens when next Sunday comes around and beyond that.”
Board and Ferguson Cleared from Concussion Protocol
Inside linebacker Chris Board and rookie pass rusher Jaylon Ferguson have been cleared from concussion protocol according to Harbaugh, and both players were on the practice field Tuesday.
Board suffered his injury during the second preseason games against the Green Bay Packers. Board may not play Thursday night, but he is expected to be the starting inside linebacker next to Patrick Onwuasor.
Ferguson was injured during joint practices last week against the Philadelphia Eagles. It’s possible Ferguson could get some action Thursday, as the third-round pick prepares to make his NFL regular season debut.
Other players who returned to practice Tuesday after missing Sunday were wide receiver Marquise Brown, outside linebacker Tim Williams and defensive tackle Gerald Willis.
Roster Decisions Yet to be Made on Young and Marshall
Deciding the status of cornerbacks Tavon Young and Iman Marshall will be part of the puzzle as the Ravens work out their 53-man roster this weekend. For Young or Marshall to be placed on the injured designated to return, they would have to be part of the 53-man roster Sunday after final cuts are made.
Young has a serious neck injury,[comma] which will keep him sidelined for the first part of the season, if not the entire season. Marshall has missed the last two preseason games, and Harbaugh said the rookie from USC still wasn’t healthy enough to play.
“He’s injured, and he’s not healthy to start the season either,” Harbaugh said of Marshall. “We’ll have to see where that goes. If he was healthy to play Thursday he certainly would, but he won’t be. We’ll just have to decide what’s best for the organization and what’s best for the player. He’s definitely in our plans, long-term and short-term could be. We’ll just have to see what we do this weekend.”
Roberts Could Play Thursday After Returning From Injury
Wide receiver Seth Roberts has been back at practice since Saturday, but whether he would play Thursday remains undecided. Signed during free agency, Roberts is one of the most experienced wide receivers on the roster with 158 catches, 1,826 yards, and 13 touchdowns during four seasons with the Oakland Raiders.
Roberts likely has a roster spot locked up, but the strong play of Michael Floyd and Jaleel Scott leaves the Ravens with an interesting decision to make on which wide receivers to keep, and how many. Roberts started the preseason opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars but didn’t catch a pass, then he was sidelined for the Packers game.
Harbaugh said how much the Ravens should play Roberts on Thursday remained a topic of discussion. Typically the starters don’t play, but Roberts has missed a decent amount of time.
“We’re talking about that right now, whether we would want to play him or not,” Harbaugh said. “He practiced the last couple of days and looked good. He was looking good, playing really well, veteran guy experienced player. He looked great. There’s a possibility he could play Thursday.
“A lot of guys won’t play at all. Guys that we don’t feel like we need to see, starter-type guys. They’ll be some guys, possibly starters, younger guys that we feel need some work. They’ll play some. Then a lot of guys who are excited about the opportunity, and want to get out there and prove themselves, to see if they can make this team or another team. They’ll play a lot.”