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John Harbaugh Explains Why Ravens Rotated Their Offensive Tackles

T Ronnie Stanley
T Ronnie Stanley

The Ravens rotated both of their starting offensive tackles for the first time this season Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams. After a strong day of blocking, they may keep it going.

Patrick Mekari stepped in for left tackle starter Ronnie Stanley for 14 of the 72 offensive snaps. Daniel Faalele relieved right tackle Morgan Moses for eight snaps.

Stanley and Moses played their best games of the season, per Pro Football Focus (PFF). Each gave up just one quarterback pressure.

Head Coach John Harbaugh said that the move was made because of Stanley and Moses's health. Stanley missed back-to-back November games due to a second knee injury and Moses missed two games in early November because of a shoulder injury.

"The idea was to split the workload up a little bit and also help Ronnie and Morgan be the strongest they could be in the fourth quarter," Harbaugh said. "It sure turned out to be a wise move."

Harbaugh said it was Offensive Line Coach Joe D'Alessandris' idea and both veteran starters were on-board.

Stanley was coming off a tough game before the bye against Khalil Mack and the Chargers, in which he gave up six pressures and committed two penalties. It was his first game back from a second knee injury and the bye week helped him get stronger.

"I definitely felt better out there – more stable, more firm," Stanley said after the game. "I'm just looking to build on that and keep making it better."

Moses, who dealt with a shoulder injury in early November that sidelined him for back-to-back games, gave up two sacks in the Chargers game. He was stronger in pass protection against the Rams and was PFF's highest-graded run blocker on the Ravens' offensive line.

Harbaugh on Marlon Humphrey: 'I Know He's Going to Play Great Football for Us'

Three-time Pro Bowl cornerback Marlon Humphrey had a busy day in his first game back from a calf injury that sidelined him for two weeks. Humphrey played all 77 defensive snaps and was targeted a team-high eight times and surrendered 92 yards, per PFF.

He gave up a chunk of those yards on back-to-back plays during the Rams' final drive of regulation. Trailing by three points, quarterback Matthew Stafford found Demarcus Robinson for a 19-yard completion after he beat Humphrey on an outside move. On the next play, Cooper Kupp got behind Humphrey for a 34-yard completion that put the Rams in field-goal range.

Humphrey came up big two plays later when he nearly intercepted Stafford in the end zone on a pass intended for Robinson. That pass breakup was instrumental in forcing the Rams to settle for a game-tying field goal, allowing the Ravens to win in overtime on Tylan Wallace's 76-yard punt return for a touchdown.

It's been a challenging season for Humphrey due to foot and calf injuries that have sidelined him for six games, but Harbaugh knows he can count on the veteran cornerback down the stretch as he settles into the rhythm of games and practices.

"If you watch the whole game, which I did, he had numerous really good plays where he was in great coverage and was just pretty dominant," Harbaugh said. "And then there were some tougher plays out there. But he hasn't played in a few weeks, he's been kind of on and off with nagging kind of injuries. I kind of attribute it to that.

"The more he plays, the more he practices, gets his technique right … Marlon Humphrey is the least of my concerns. He's a great football player, he's very conscientious. I know he's going to play great football for us."

Pepe Williams Expected to Join 53-Man Roster

Second-year cornerback Damarion "Pepe" Williams is expected to be activated off injured reserve this week before his 21-day window expires, according to Harbaugh.

"The plan is to bring him on the (53-man) roster," Harbaugh said. "I haven't talked to (General Manager) Eric (DeCosta) yet about the details of it, but that would be my anticipation."

Williams returned to practice Nov. 21 and would add to the Ravens' cornerback depth. That could be needed if Kyle Hamilton, who is day-to-day with a reported sprained knee, misses time.

Williams, a fourth-round pick from Houston, was expected to compete for an increased role at nickel but underwent offseason ankle surgery and was sidelined during OTAs, minicamp, and much of training camp.

Williams underwent a second ankle surgery and was on injured reserve since Aug. 31. He saw action in 14 games as a rookie on defense and special teams, finishing with 22 tackles and two pass breakups.

Harbaugh: Charlie Kolar's Block Was 'Absolutely Legal'

While Tylan Wallace was the hero of the game, there were of course numerous blocks that set up his game-winning 76-yard punt return for a touchdown.

Harbaugh ran through the series of events after watching the play on film, giving kudos to Jalyn Armour-Davis, Justice Hill, Trenton Simpson, Josh Ross, Charlie Kolar and others.

There were some who questioned whether Kolar's block was a block in the back, but Harbaugh is not among them.

"I know it was absolutely legal. I watched it on tape," Harbaugh said. "His hands were in front. For it to be a block in the back, you actually have to block the guy in the back, which he did not do."

There's a funny background to the play because the player he blocked, Rams linebacker Jacob Hummel, was a college teammate (Iowa State) and good friend.

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