Just two days after signing a mega contract extension, left tackle Ronnie Stanley suffered a "severe" season-ending ankle injury, Head Coach John Harbaugh announced.
Stanley left Sunday's 28-24 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on a cart with his left leg in an air cast.
It's a brutal injury for Stanley and a Ravens offense trying to find consistency. Stanley is arguably the best left tackle in the NFL and was a first-team All-Pro last season. He's the chief of security detail for MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson.
"It's a tough loss, obviously. I feel bad for Ronnie," Harbaugh said. "He's a guy who's been playing well. You mentioned the contract situation. It's not really the main thing. The main thing is that he wants to play [and] he wants to be a part of it. He's worked very hard to be out there and to contribute. That's the nature of the game, often times, unfortunately."
Stanley went down near the end of the first quarter when Jackson was sacked by Steelers defensive end Stephon Tuitt. Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt rolled onto Stanley's ankle just as it planted in the turf and it bent backwards.
The entire Ravens bench – players and coaches – came onto the field to wish him well before he was carted off. Even some Steelers came over to offer a few words of encouragement.
On Friday, Stanley signed a five-year contract extension nearing $100 million, making him reportedly the NFL's second-highest paid offensive lineman in terms of average per year. Now he'll have a long rehabilitation process to get back on the field next season.
The Ravens also had to operate for much of Sunday's game without rookie right guard Tyre Phillips, who also suffered an ankle injury. He was originally listed as questionable to return but downgraded to out at halftime.
Orlando Brown Jr. shifted from right tackle to left tackle and veteran D.J. Fluker stepped in at right tackle. Patrick Mekari replaced Phillips at right guard.
Brown said it was "very hard" to see that happen to Stanley.
"That's somebody that's helped me throughout my career, someone that's done what he needed to do to put himself and his family up for the rest of their life," Brown said. "Losing someone like that, a leader like that to this team and offensive line, it's hard to put into words the effect that that takes on you a little bit as your morale. But it's the NFL, and unfortunately the mentality is next man up."
Jackson said the Ravens wanted to win the game for Stanley after the injury.
"That's our brother," Jackson said. "It was all about him at that point when we saw him go down. He means a lot to our offense. … I'm just sorry we couldn't get the victory for him."