Nick Boyle is ready to return, almost one year after the exact date of his serious knee injury.
The Ravens moved Boyle from injured reserve to the active roster Monday, meaning he could play in Thursday's game against the Miami Dolphins. Boyle was injured in New England on Nov. 15 last year and could play in his first game since on Nov. 11 in Miami.
"He's been practicing well. I think he will be ready for Thursday," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "We'll just have to see where we go with all that stuff. He's in the mix."
The Ravens also made three other transactions Monday afternoon. Guard Ben Cleveland (knee) has been designated for return to practice, beginning his 21-day window for return to game action. Cleveland was sharing the starting left guard spot with Ben Powers before his injury against the Indianapolis Colts on Oct. 11.
Baltimore also moved safety DeShon Elliott to injured reserve after his season-ending torn pectoral/biceps in Sunday’s win. The Ravens re-signed veteran safety Jordan Richards to the practice squad.
Boyle had a clean-up procedure done during the summer, which delayed his return to the field. He returned for practice briefly before the season opener but was shut down again and returned to practice Oct. 20. Boyle has not suffered any setbacks, clearing the way for his return.
One of the NFL's top blocking tight ends and a key to Baltimore's offense, Boyle's addition to the offense is significant for the Ravens, who led the NFL in rushing the past two seasons, but who have not run the ball as consistently in 2021 after losing running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards to season-ending injuries.
Boyle is a devastating blocker who can be moved across formations to give the Ravens an advantage at the point of attack. Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman loves using multiple tight end sets, and Boyle has improved as a receiver every year since joining the Ravens as a fifth-round pick in 2015. During his last full season in 2019, Boyle had a career-high 31 catches for 321 yards and two touchdowns.
The Ravens may gradually increase Boyle's playing time, but his presence adds a key element to the offense as the team enters the final nine games of the season.
"Nick obviously has been a really good player for us," Roman said last week. "It was a big loss for us last year, but he's been really working to get back. I mean, Nick is a guy with a unique skillset that keeps getting better. We're just going to have to bring him into the fold gradually and get him to where he's feeling really comfortable out there so he can be Nick Boyle.
"He's sneaky good in the passing game, too. He's a pretty complete player. We're looking forward to him getting healthy again, really, for him. He's such a hard, diligent worker who really lays it on the line [and] wants to be perfect in everything. He's always chasing it. He's a guy that you want to have on your side."