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Ronnie Stanley officially ruled out for Week 1

Baltimore Ravens v Washington Football Team Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

The rehab and return of numerous key players from injury has been a dominating storyline of the Baltimore Ravens’ offseason. Perhaps no player’s status is more important than that of Ronnie Stanley, the team’s franchise left tackle.

Stanley was activated off the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list just over two weeks ago on August 26. After returning to practice earlier this week, there was outside optimism that Stanley might be ready to suit up for Week 1.

Unfortunately, the former All-Pro’s long-awaited return will have to wait a little longer. On Saturday morning, the Ravens officially ruled Stanley out for tomorrow’s season opener against the New York Jets.

This doesn’t come as a huge surprise. Stanley only recently returned to the field and has only logged a few practices. He was a limited participant on Wednesday and Friday, and did not practice on Thursday. The Ravens listed him as doubtful on Friday’s injury report.

Head Coach John Harbaugh and the team’s training staff have taken a cautious, patient approach to Stanley’s rehab all offseason. The same can be said for other players returning from injury like J.K. Dobbins, Marcus Peters, Gus Edwards, and Tyus Bowser. Harbaugh has repeatedly said, when asked about Stanley’s return, that it’s a matter of when he feels “ready” and “comfortable.”

A ramp-up period longer than just a week or two is likely needed before Stanley can be re-inserted into the starting lineup. So, it wouldn’t be a surprise if we have to wait at least another couple of weeks before Stanley returns to action.

In his place, look for veteran offensive tackle Ja’Wuan James to start at left tackle in Week 1, or backup lineman Patrick Mekari. While James has been a right tackle for most of his career, the Ravens have deployed him on the left side of the line for most of this offseason in Stanley’s absence. James saw preseason action at the position as a starter.

He had previously been absent from the field even longer then Stanley. James has not taken a regular season snap since 2019. He suffered a season-ending knee injury that year, opted out of the 2020 season, and then suffered a torn Achilles injury last spring. The Ravens signed him shortly after in June of 2021.

Mekari started 12 games at right tackle for the Ravens last season. While primarily the team’s backup center, Mekari performed adequately on the outside in 2021 and has proven he can hold up at the position if needed. The Ravens may prefer to have Mekari on-hand in case they need to plug him in at center, though, or somewhere else on the offensive line.

The Ravens are better prepared to fill the Stanley-sized void on the offensive line now than they were around this time last year. Still, given he’s made just one full regular season appearance since signing a five-year contract extension in October 2020, his eventual return will be much-welcomed.