The Ravens are much healthier than they were last season heading into Week 1.
Rookie safety Kyle Hamilton, who had not practiced since Aug. 25, joined Ronnie Stanley in returning to practice Monday. That left rookie defensive tackle Travis Jones (knee) as the only player on the 53-man roster who was not on the field.
It's a much healthier situation than last year when J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, Marcus Peters and Justice Hill had already suffered season-ending injuries heading into Week 1, while Rashod Bateman was recovering from core muscle surgery. The Ravens adjusted their daily training camp routine this summer and did not participate in a joint practice during the preseason, hoping it would help them avoid injuries. Head Coach John Harbaugh is thankful about the outcome, regardless of why it transpired.
"You just never know what leads to anything," Harbaugh said. "You never know what's to blame for sure, and you never know what's to credit for sure. To be honest with you, I get on my knees every night and I thank God in all honesty that we're in a good place that way and I pray for the next day."
A determination on the status of Stanley (ankle), Peters (knee) and Dobbins (knee) for Sunday's game will be made later in the week.
Justin Houston Ready to Play Heavy Snaps If Necessary
Justin Houston and Odafe Oweh are the only outside linebackers on the Ravens' 53-man depth chart with Tyus Bowser (Achilles) and David Ojabo (Achilles) on injured reserve.
The 33-year-old Justin Houston could face a heavy workload Sunday even if the Ravens elevate Steven Means and Jeremiah Moon from the practice squad. After not playing at all during the preseason, Houston says he's ready to play as much as the Ravens need.
"I'm ready to go, by all means," Houston said. "If they need me to play every snap, I'm playing every snap I can play. They'll carry me off the field before I quit. I was told you'll pass out before for you die, so I'm willing to pass out."
Houston has 102 career sacks, passing the 100-mark last season with 4.5 sacks while leading the Ravens with 17 quarterback hits. He plans on surpassing those numbers in his second season with Baltimore, feeling he has plenty left in the tank. He's determined to help the Ravens win a Super Bowl and feels they have all the talent they need.
"We're going to get that ring this year," Houston said. "I'm tired of hoping and wishing. We're going to get it. I'm going to speak it into existence. That's why I'm here still playing, still chasing that ring."
Harbaugh Says Lamar Jackson Hasn't Been Distracted by Contract Talks
Lamar Jackson said during training camp that Week 1 was his deadline for getting a contract extension done, leaving just a few more days for an agreement to be finalized prior to the season. Harbaugh did not have a progress report on negotiations, but said Jackson's daily approach since the start of training camp has never wavered.
"I don't have any updates on that, nothing that I'm aware of," Harbaugh said. "It's been football, football, football for the players and coaches. My interactions with Lamar have been all football, and he's been focused and locked in on that 100 percent from a football standpoint.
"You don't hear conflicting reports, you don't hear any kind of back and forth. Because everybody's just telling you the truth. Lamar has said he's focused on the season, he's under contract, he's going to have the best season he can have. He's hopeful to get a new contract, we're hopeful to get him a new contract. The rest of it is business – nothing other than coming to something that's mutually agreeable. That's the way all these deals are done. Obviously, I'm very hopeful. I know everybody's very hopeful to get it done. But the focus remains on the football. Lamar's that way, coaches and players are all that way."
Morgan Moses Looks Forward to Facing Former Team
Starting right tackle Morgan Moses spent last season with the Jets before signing with Baltimore during free agency. On Sunday, Moses will face his former teammates in his first regular-season game with Baltimore. For Moses, his familiarity with the Jets only adds to the excitement of the opener.
"It's going to be fun," Moses said. "[There are] a lot of guys over there that I spent the year with last year [and] that I got to know, so I'm looking forward to it."
The Jets have a talented defensive line featuring defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, who has 13 sacks over the past two seasons, former No. 3-overall pick Solomon Thomas, former Bengals defensive end Carl Lawson, and rookie defensive end Jermaine Johnson, the 26th-overall pick. Moses said the Jets' defensive front will pose a formidable challenge, and that their culture has changed under second-year Head Coach Robert Saleh.
"They did a great job of flipping that roster," Moses said. "Even being there last year, you could feel that it was different, especially for me. I know Coach Saleh; he's going to have those guys on 100 – running around, fast football, pursuing. You can't take it for granted [that] we're playing on 9/11 in New York, so it means a little bit more to them to get that win. We know they're going to come out swinging, and it's our job to stand at the plate and bat it out."