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Harbaugh leaves door open for Ja’Wuan James “possibly” returning to action in 2021

The Ravens don’t believe getting the veteran OT back sooner rather than later is out of the realm of possibilities.

Denver Broncos v Oakland Raiders Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

The Baltimore Ravens have been pretty busy to start the week with three transactions involving veteran players. One of the more surprising moves was the signing of former Denver Broncos right tackle Ja’Wuan James to a two-year deal a month after he suffered a torn Achilles tendon following a 2020 season where he opted out for COVID-19 concerns.

James only appeared in three games in 2019 because of a knee injury but despite his recent bout with the injury bug, Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh is happy to have him on board.

“I think it’s a great signing. I’m just very, very pleased to have him,” Harbaugh said. “He’s a highly-decorated player. He sat out one year, obviously. [He] had the injury before and now another injury, so it’s a tough set of circumstances for him. But from what I understand, he’s very determined to get himself healthy again and get back to playing at the highest level.”

The expectation is that the Ravens signed James with the intention to medically redshirt him for a year and hope he’s ready to compete in 2022. However, Harbaugh didn’t rule out the possibility of James being able to return sometime later in the 2021 season.

“That injury there, the Achilles injury, is one that there could be a possibly he could be back this year even – November [or] December, maybe,” Harbaugh said. “I wouldn’t say we’re counting on that, but it’s certainly something that you know is possible.”

It wouldn’t be the first time in recent memory that the Ravens left the door open for the possibility of a veteran player returning from this particular injury. Harbaugh referenced the instance when franchise all-time sack leader, Terrell Suggs, tore his Achilles around the same time in the offseason in 2012 but was able to return in November of that year to participate in the team’s magical Super Bowl run.

“We’ll just see what happens, but it’s always good to add another good player who’s a really good person and a hardworking guy,” Harbaugh said. “We’re happy to have him.”

Suggs was coming off a 2011 season where he made his fifth career Pro Bowl, was voted First-Team All-Pro, and won the Defensive Player of the Year Award. James will be coming off back-to-back injuries and the Ravens already have a couple of contingency plans in place at the tackle position.

Nevertheless, injuries happen every year and could come at the most inopportune times for contending teams like the Ravens that are primed to make a championship run in 2021. Having a starting-caliber tackle capable of playing at a high level could come in handy if they were to suffer an injury at the position late in the year or if the current starter wasn’t performing well.