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Football Outsiders: Better hope Austin Howard stays healthy

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Oakland Raiders Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The second of our five part series with Football Outsiders, discusses the loss of right tackle Ricky Wagner, and how the Ravens will perform without the new Detroit Lion.

The Ravens lost right tackle Ricky Wagner, and are replacing him with either James Hurst or Austin Howard. Do you expect regression? If so, how much?

Some, but Wagner was a weird player to peg a value on. He’s not exactly a bookend pass protector, and the Ravens struggled to run the ball even with Wagner. I think the Ravens made the right call to let him walk, as players with this kind of history aren’t exactly worth breaking the bank for.

James Hurst, however, just isn’t good. Better hope Howard is healthy.

It is true, the Ravens struggled on the right side last season. Once Marshal switched to left guard to deal with his shoulder injury, Wagner didn’t pick up the slack left by the void of Yanda. Letting Wagner walk was a good idea, and the signing of defenders sure does feel great, especially after watching them for so many practices.

Problem though, the Ravens are now relying upon the health of players; something they’ve suffered many times this season already, and what usually crushes the Ravens postseason hopes the past few years.

In fact, the past few practices haven’t seen Ronnie Stanley, pushing James Hurst to left tackle and Austin Howard at right tackle. Though Harbaugh said it’s nothing ‘season-ending’, it’s stressful. The Ravens are down a few players already, and their star left-tackle missing practice is serious.