It's been a great past few days for the Baltimore Ravens offense as they have had multiple starters make their return from injury and illness.
After running back Gus Edwards returned to practice on Friday and quarterback Lamar Jackson on Saturday, the Ravens saw franchise left tackle Ronnie Stanley make his training camp debut on Monday.
LT Ronnie Stanley has returned to practice. Huge gain for this team.— Kyle P Barber (@KylePBarber) August 9, 2021
Unlike Edwards and Jackson, who missed the first week-and-a-half of training camp recovering from COVID-19, Stanley has been working his way back from a major surgery. The All-Pro blindside protector suffered a season-ending ankle injury in a Week 8 matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers last year and missed the remainder of the season including the playoffs.
The Ravens had to reshuffle their starting offensive line after he went down, forcing Orlando Brown Jr. to flip over from the right side and a revolving door at right tackle. The two-man rotation mainly consisted of a rookie Tyre Phillips and veteran D.J. Fluker but also included both Will Holden and Patrick Mekari for two different second halves.
The Ravens have been extra precautious and patient with Stanley during his rehabilitation process, making sure they didn’t rush him back before he was ready to avoid any setbacks. The timetable for his return was arguably the biggest concern for the team with the regular season just a little over a month away.
“I think we were hoping for right around now. He’s certainly very much on schedule,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “[He’s] been working really hard. If you’d seen him working the last couple of weeks, you’d have been impressed. So, that was good to see.”
He signed a five-year extension worth $98.75 million days before going down and his absence was sorely evident at times last year, showing his tremendous value in the process. His return to practice is another positive development for the team as they prepare to embark on what they hope will be a championship-winning season in 2021.
The Ravens brought in more reinforcements to upgrade the unit across the board, including the signing of veterans Kevin Zeitler and Alejandro Villanueva and the drafting of Ben Cleveland. However, make no mistake, Stanley is not only their highest-paid offensive lineman by far, but he is their best by a wide margin as well.
His health is directly tied to their success running the ball and protecting Jackson to the best of their ability.