Ronnie Stanley might not be the only rookie in Baltimore's starting lineup. He might not even be the only rookie on the starting offensive line.
Fourth-round pick Alex Lewis has taken the bulk of the first-team reps at left guard over the last two weeks after the injury to John Urschel, and Lewis can make a case to win the starting job in Saturday's preseason matchup with the Detroit Lions.
"Alex is going to get plenty of reps," Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman said. "We certainly feel good about where he is at the present time. He has a long way to go, as well. He has t e the ability to do it. He is smart. He is a good communicator, and he is working very hard. We will just see how that goes."
The Ravens drafted Lewis out of Nebraska, where he was a two-year starter at left tackle. They quickly shifted the 6-foot-6, 315-pounder inside to guard where he would compete for a starting job.
Lewis was running behind Urschel on the depth chart during the early part of training camp, but Urschel hasn't practiced since sustaining a contusion in the preseason opener. Urschel's injury is not expected to keep him out for long, but Lewis has made the most of his reps in his absence.
"The more you play, the easier it gets," Lewis said. "With anything, you always have to keep practicing until it becomes second nature. It's not quite there yet as second nature, but we're getting there, stacking each day on top of one another."
A consideration with putting Lewis in the starting lineup is that it would give the Ravens a pair of rookies on the left side protecting franchise quarterback Joe Flacco's blindside. Stanley is entrenched as the starting left tackle, and there is an inherent risk putting a pair of youngsters side-by-side.
But the Ravens have done that before – James Hurst and John Urschel started at left tackle and left guard because of injuries during the 2014 postseason – and Head Coach John Harbaugh has consistently said he's simply looking for the five best offensive linemen.
"If we go into the regular season that way, it will be because I'm confident in those two guys over there," Harbaugh said.
Flacco has also liked what he's seen from the rookies in front of him.
"I think [Stanley] is doing a great job, along with Alex Lewis at left guard," Flacco said. "I think those guys are progressing big time."
Another possibility for the Ravens is to give veteran guard Vladimir Ducasse a look with the first-team unit. He has also taken reps with the starters during training camp, and he will could win the job if the Ravens don't think Lewis is ready to start.
The starters are expected to play most of the first half against Detroit, and both guards could get snaps with the first team.
"I just look at this game as a chance to go and get better," Lewis said. "I'll try to beat the guy across from me, and I'll make sure he doesn't hit Joe or my running backs. There's no pressure. It's football, man. We get to play the game we love to play."