Baltimore Sun Ravens' editor Mark Selig offers his prediction for Sunday's matchup between the Ravens and the Oakland Raiders at M&T Bank stadium. (Baltimore Sun video)
Left tackle Ronnie Stanley (foot) and left guard Alex Lewis (concussion) sat out their second straight day of practice Thursday, leaving the first-team rookies' availability in doubt ahead of the Ravens' game against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.
If Stanley and Lewis do not start, the team likely would turn to James Hurst and Ryan Jensen. The 6-foot-5, 312-pound Hurst started eight games at left tackle last season and is listed on the depth chart as the primary backup for Stanley (6-6, 320), the sixth overall pick in the NFL draft, and for right tackle Rick Wagner. Hurst practiced with the starters Wednesday and Thursday.
"Being the backup, you've got to be ready to go anywhere," he said after Thursday's practice. "So this week, I've been lucky enough to get reps in with the ones in practice, which is good. Obviously, they play the guys that are in, but also just getting into the game plan and being involved and everything like that, I'm excited about it. I'm going to go out there and I'm preparing like I'm the starter."
Similarly, the 6-4, 310-pound Jensen has been filling in for the 6-6, 315-pound Lewis, a fourth-round draft pick. Jensen played the final 10 snaps on offense in Sunday's 19-17 win against the Jacksonville Jaguars after Lewis suffered a concussion in the fourth quarter.
"It's tough coming in that late in a game in that kind of situation, but I always prepare like I'm going to be the starting guy," Jensen said Wednesday. "Always ready on the sideline, always staying loose and being ready to go in at a moment's notice, because that's how it happened in the week."
Hurst struggled at times at left tackle last season, and many fans blamed him when he was pushed into quarterback Joe Flacco, who tore the ACL and MCL in his left knee in the final minute of a 16-13 win against the St. Louis Rams on Nov. 22. Jensen started six games at left guard in 2015 but was passed by Lewis in the preseason.
Still, offensive coordinator Marc Trestman expressed his faith in Hurst and Jensen if Stanley and Lewis are unable to go against the Raiders.
"We've played with the guys that are in there now," he said. "We've played and moved the ball successfully in the times they've been in there. So we're really confident in that area. Obviously, we felt very good about Alex and Ronnie, and we'll see what the trainers and doctors say and [coach] John [Harbaugh] determines at the end of the week how that goes. But we feel good about the guys that we have."