Badly needing a blocking tight end, the Ravens activated Nick Boyle to the 53-man roster Saturday despite the second-year player practicing for only a week with the team.
Boyle was suspended for the first 10 games of the season after he was found in violation of the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs for a second time. During his suspension, he wasn't allowed to practice with the Ravens or even be at the team facility.
He returned to the team Monday for the first time since the end of the preseason. The Ravens didn't have to activate him to the active roster until Monday, but they apparently saw enough – and their need for a blocking tight end is significant enough – that they felt he can help the team in its game Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium.
To make room for Boyle on the 53-man roster, the Ravens waived cornerback/kick returner Asa Jackson. Jackson was promoted from the practice squad on Nov. 15, but he was one of two healthy inactives in the team's loss to the Dallas Cowboys. If he clears waivers, the Ravens could re-sign Jackson to the practice squad.
Boyle, a fifth-round pick in 2015, played in 11 games as a rookie, starting two, and catching 18 balls for 153 yards. A physical presence at 6-foot-4 and 260 pounds, Boyle is considered a solid blocking tight end. The Ravens have missed that with Crockett Gillmore (thigh) missing three consecutive games and in danger of not playing Sunday, too.
Without Gillmore, the Ravens have used reserve offensive tackle James Hurst as an extra blocker and they've also been forced to rely on Dennis Pitta and Darren Waller to block more. Waller is a converted wide receiver, and blocking has never been Pitta's strength.
Boyle, though, should immediately be able to help them in that area. He said Wednesday after his first practice back that he felt in good enough shape to play immediately.
"The biggest thing I had to create for myself was a really good schedule to get better over those 10 weeks because I'm not going to be here," Boyle said. "That's what I did for myself, I stuck to the schedule. It was tough at times. The last couple of weeks kind of get monotonous, but I stuck to a really good schedule. I lifted, ran, worked on football position stuff. It was really good."