Next Man Up as Ravens Face Adversity

Street Talk Next Man Up as Ravens Face Adversity

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Left tackle Ronnie Stanley and cornerback Marlon Humphrey each signed massive extensions with the Ravens this season and neither will be available for the Week 9 game against the Indianapolis Colts.

Both players made the Pro Bowl in 2019 and will be difficult to replace in the starting lineup.

The loss of Stanley and Humphrey comes at a critical time for the Ravens, who are playing the toughest portion of their schedule against teams vying for a spot in the playoffs.

Stanley is lost for the season after suffering an ankle injury against the Steelers. Two days earlier, he signed a $98.8 million, five-year extension that will keep him under contract through the 2025 season.

As a result, the Ravens will shift Pro-Bowler Orlando Brown Jr from right tackle to left tackle. Veteran D.J. Fluker took over Brown’s spot on the right side, which is not completely devastating. 

Rookie Tyre Phillips, who has started at right guard, is also out for the season with an ankle injury, but Patrick Mekari has played well in his place. 

Nonetheless, the Ravens will have their hands full with a tough Colts defense that is ranked second in the league in total defense, allowing 293.4 yards per game. Indianapolis defensive tackle Denico Autry has four sacks and could create serious matchup problems for the Ravens.

Lamar Jackson has been inconsistent most of the season and has not been able to get the passing attack on track. He’s already been sacked 19 times over seven games, after absorbing 23 sacks all of last season.

Some of the players are getting frustrated. 

Wide receiver Hollywood Brown tweeted after the Steelers game: “What’s the point of having souljas when you never use them (Never!!).” He later deleted the Tweet, but the frustration could linger because Brown has been solid running his routes, but Jackson is not getting much time to throw.

Coach John Harbaugh is not worried about any divisiveness on the team. 

“I did text him about it, and he took it down,” Harbaugh said. “And we’ll just leave it at that for now and see where it goes. But I’ll tell you this, he did play the game like a soldier. He was fighting very hard out there – blocking and running routes and had, obviously, a big touchdown catch [and] almost another one right before that. 

“So, I like the way he was fighting. I don’t disagree with the fact that if he’s saying he’s a soldier. But I promise you, we’re trying to use all of our guys; he knows that. [He’s] probably a little frustrated, but he’s not a selfish guy. I don’t believe he is for one second. If he was, he wouldn’t play as hard as he did or be the good guy that he is around the building every single day. So, I have a lot of trust in him, and the fact that he took it down, I appreciated that.”

The loss of Humphrey could be even more problematic. The Ravens already placed three cornerbacks — Tavon Young, Anthony Averett and Iman Marshall— on injured reserve.  Humphrey is arguably the best playmaker on the defense. 

Defensive coordinator Don Martindale is going to have to be creative to protect the secondary.  The upside is Colts quarterback Philip Rivers is having an uneven season, throwing for 1,860 yards with 10 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. Rivers is not mobile so the Ravens will bring the pressure.  However, wide receivers T.Y. Hilton, Zach Pascal and tight end Moe Alie-Cox do a solid job getting open. 

The Ravens will rely on a couple of young players — Terrell Bonds and Khalil Dorsey — to help fill the void until Humphrey can get back in the lineup. Bonds, however, is being quarantined this week because of a potential COVID-19 issue related to Humphrey. 

“We do have good depth back there, and it is being tested,” Harbaugh said. “Losing Tavon kind of brought us back a little bit. Now, with Marlon. I thought ‘TB’ [Terrell Bonds] did a good job. He played well. He made some tackles and flew around, and did a good, solid job out there. So, that’s good to see, and Khalil Dorsey is another young guy who can play. I really feel confident with those guys. 

“As a defense, we have a good whole out there, and I do believe the young guys are going to step up and play well.”

Nonetheless, the Ravens are facing some serious adversity. Harbaugh solid track record galvanizing his players, and once again, he’ll need to do a solid job to keep the season from unraveling. 

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Todd Karpovich

About Todd Karpovich

Todd Karpovich has been a contributor for ESPN, the Associated Press, SportsXchange, the Baltimore Sun, among other media outlets nationwide. He is the co-author of “If These Walls Could Talk: Stories from the Baltimore Ravens Sideline, Locker Room, and Press Box,” “Skipper Supreme: Buck Showalter and the Baltimore Orioles,” and the author of “Manchester United (Europe's Best Soccer Clubs).” Karpovich lives in Towson with his wife, Jill, daughters, Wyeth and Marta, and a pair of dogs, Sarah and Rory. More from Todd Karpovich
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