It can’t and won’t be used as an excuse, but the fact of the matter is, the Ravens have major injury concerns heading into a critical game against the rival Steelers.
“We’re not as healthy as they are, but we’re healthy enough to win the game; I promise you that,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said.
Ronnie Stanley Is Out, Jermaine Eluemunor Preparing toStart
Left tackle Ronnie Stanley (ankle) did not practice at all this week and was ruled out on Friday. Quarterback Joe Flacco was tackled into Stanley’s leg last week. He immediately left the game but returned later to grind it out.
Right tackle James Hurst, who would probably be Stanley’s replacement, is still sidelined by a back injury that has knocked him out of the past two weeks’ games. He has also been ruled out.
That means Jermaine Eluemunor – who was released in September, re-signed to the practice squad, then brought up to the 53-man roster just last week – is preparing to start at left tackle and rookie Orlando Brown Jr. will get his third start at right tackle.
Eluemunor hasn’t started a game at left tackle since his days at Lackawanna College in Scranton, Pa., before he transferred to Texas A&M and played right tackle. He has been practicing at left tackle while on the practice squad, going against Terrell Suggs every day.
Eleumunor said being released made him reevaluate his career. The England native entered the NFL as a developmental prospect, and he found out he needed to speed up that improvement.
“As soon as I was signed back to the practice squad, I wasn’t going to take this for granted anymore because I can be gone in the snap of a finger,” he said. “Every single day for the past four weeks on the practice squad, I did everything I could possibly do to be ready if I got another chance.”
Eluemunor stepped in for Stanley last week and held his own against the Panthers’ pass rush. His pass blocking is better than his run blocking, Harbaugh said Monday.
Still, the second-year England native will have a tough test versus the Steelers’ front, including a first-round pick from Eluemunor’s draft class, T.J. Watt., who has seven sacks.
“Shoot, this would be the biggest of my career if I get the opportunity. That’s for sure,” Eluemunor said. “They have a great front, great players – Bud Dupree and T.J. Watt are two really good edge rushers. For the offensive line as a whole, it’s going to be a big test for us to win the line of scrimmage.”
In better news for the offensive line, left guard Alex Lewis (neck) looks ready for a return after practicing every day this week. Lewis is questionable on the final injury report after being limited in practice all week. He said there’s no more soreness in his neck.
“We had a good practice today. Practice went really well,” Lewis said. “I felt good out there, running around fast, playing fast. I’m going to go out and try to roll Sunday.”
Marlon Humphrey Looks Poised to Return, Tim Williams Ruled Out
While the offensive line is banged up, the Ravens’ secondary could be back to full strength.
Cornerback Marlon Humphrey (thigh) is listed as questionable to play, but he practiced Thursday and Friday, so he’s trending in the right direction.
It would be just in time with the Steelers boasting a dangerous passing attack with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and wide receivers Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster. Humphrey followed Brown around for much of their Week 4 meeting, limiting him to five catches for 62 yards and a touchdown.
The Ravens didn’t have Jimmy Smith for that meeting, so that changes the equation.
Baltimore did rule out outside linebacker Tim Williams (ankle), however. Williams has two sacks this season, including one on Roethlisberger in Week 4.
C.J. Mosley, Tony Jefferson Return to Practice Friday
Inside linebacker and leader of the Ravens’ front-seven C.J. Mosley (thigh) practiced for the first time Friday on a limited basis and is questionable to play.
If he’s not able to suit up, it would be a big hit to Baltimore’s defense. Mosley had his best game of the year, and possibly career, against the Saints in Week 7, but struggled against the Panthers’ speed last Sunday.
Safety Tony Jefferson, who had a key turnover in the Week 4 win over the Steelers, also didn’t practice until Friday because of a hamstring injury. He too is questionable.
Alex Collins Is Questionable; Ty Montgomery Is an Option
Running back Alex Collins (foot) is also questionable because of a foot injury. He was limited Wednesday, didn’t practice Thursday, then practiced full Friday.
He’s the Ravens’ leading rusher, but Baltimore at least does have more options after trading for Ty Montgomery this week.
Harbaugh said Montgomery could play against the Steelers after just four days with the team. He’s been spending long hours at the Under Armour Performance Center this week trying to learn Baltimore’s offense and special teams.
“The [Ravens and Packers] systems are rooted in the same kind of background, so he has a very good understanding of the plays,” Harbaugh said. “And special teams are fine; he’ll have no problem with that. We’ll just have to see how the numbers work out.”
Steelers Have Hardly Any Health Issues
Starting right tackle Marcus Gilbert (knee) is doubtful to play Sunday, but he’s the only Steeler that seems to be in doubt.
Cornerbacks Artie Burns (ankle) and Coty Sensabaugh (toe) are both questionable. Burns was added to the injury report Friday as a limited participant. Sensabaugh practiced fully Friday.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has a broken finger in his non-throwing hand, which held him out of practice Wednesday, but he’ll of course still suit up.