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Ronnie Stanley Is Confident He Can Return to Top Form

LT Ronnie Stanley
LT Ronnie Stanley

Ronnie Stanley was a first-team All-Pro in 2019, considered the best left tackle in the NFL.

That's the stature that Stanley wants back. And for the first time in years, Stanley feels healthy enough to be that guy, as good as he's felt since the start of the 2020 season.

"There's zero doubt in my head that if I'm playing the way I usually play, to my standard, I'm the best tackle," Stanley said Tuesday following the first day of mandatory minicamp.

It's been a long road for Stanley since 2020, when he fractured his ankle in Week 7 just days after signing a contract that made him the league's highest-paid tackle at the time. The injury ended Stanley's 2020 season, and he played just one game in 2021 before electing to have more surgery on the same ankle.

Stanley returned to play 11 games in 2022 and 13 games in 2023, but a knee injury suffered early last season limited his strength and mobility. He simply wasn't healthy enough to dominate like he once did, and that fact took a toll both physically and mentally.

"It was killing me on the inside, knowing that I wasn't playing to my potential," Stanley said. "But I'm moving on from last year."

Stanley dedicated this offseason to getting stronger and healthier and the results have been impressive. He has been a constant presence since the beginning of OTAs, looking lean, strong, and determined. The pads haven't come on yet, but it's obvious Stanley is in a better place physically.

He confirmed that he agreed to restructure his contract in March, paving the way for him to return to Baltimore for his ninth season, a place where the sixth-[add]overall pick in 2016 always loved to play.

"Baltimore is like a second home to me," Stanley said. "Missing a lot of time … I would probably have some regret leaving Baltimore not on the note that I want to leave it on.

"I just take every season as if it would be my last."

Stanley is now the most veteran player on the offensive line, after the departures of Kevin Zeitler and Morgan Moses. The Ravens will have three new starters up front, but if Stanley returns to being an anchor on the left side, it would go a long way toward stabilizing things up front.

"What I see from Ronnie is he's moving his feet, he's got a good anchor, and he'll get into the pads and just work," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "Obviously, having a talented left tackle playing at a high level will be really good for our football team."

The addition of running back Derrick Henry gives the Ravens another elite weapon, and Stanley is eager to block for a back who can turn any play into a memorable one. Stanley and his offensive linemates are building chemistry with Henry this offseason, knowing they're blocking for a special talent capable of wearing down opponents.

"I think it's going to be very physical football, smashmouth football," Stanley said. "He's also an elusive player. I look forward to blocking for him and learning more about the type of things he sees during a run so I can make the runs as good of a play for him as possible."

Stanley hopes to remind everyone that he is still talented and young enough at age 30 to become that guy again. Now as the oldest starter on the offensive line, Stanley is aware he's setting an example for younger linemates.

"Last year we had a little more veteran presence," Stanley said. "We have a lot of new faces, guys that are going to be part of this team, part of this offense.

"It's a lot about the guy that you play next to. Just making sure the communication from the huddle to the line of scrimmage is clear. We don't need to repeat a whole play call, there's key words that we need to focus on, remind each other, make the game easier for each other."

If Stanley stays healthy, he thinks his play will speak for itself. So far, the Ravens like what they see.

"Ronnie's doing a good job," Harbaugh said. "He got in shape, it looks like. He's ready to go. It's exciting.

"I love Ronnie. I love who he is – his personality – but I also love what he's capable of doing on the football field. If we get Ronnie Stanley out there playing to that level, that would be wonderful."

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