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After coronavirus outbreak, here’s where the Ravens’ roster stands for game vs. Steelers

The Ravens roster that almost knocked off the unbeaten Pittsburgh Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium a month ago is not the same team that will step onto Heinz Field on Wednesday afternoon.

About a dozen Ravens starters and key contributors are not expected to play against the Steelers as they complete self-quarantine periods while on the NFL’s reserve/COVID-19 list in the aftermath of a team-wide outbreak.

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The depth at some positions was completely whittled, forcing the Ravens coaching staff to get creative, while the core of other positions remains intact. Regardless, the Ravens will field the healthy players they have and try to pull off a massive upset.

Here is where the team’s roster stands heading into Wednesday afternoon.

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In good shape

Secondary

Who’s available: S Chuck Clark, S DeShon Elliott, CB Davontae Harris, CB Marlon Humphrey, DB/LB Anthony Levine Sr., CB Marcus Peters, S Jordan Richards, CB Jimmy Smith, CB Tramon Williams

Who’s out: CB Terrell Bonds (reserve/COVID-19 list; previously on injured reserve), S Geno Stone (reportedly tested positive Tuesday)

If there was any silver lining to placing 22 players on the reserve/COVID-19 list since Nov. 23, the Ravens’ entire starting secondary went unscathed. It was already a unit that has struggled with injuries throughout the season but should be in a good position Wednesday. The almost extra week of time also allowed cornerback Jimmy Smith (ankle/back) to rest. He’s listed as questionable to play.

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Running backs

Who’s available: Gus Edwards, Justice Hill, TySon Williams (practice squad)

Who’s out: J.K. Dobbins, Mark Ingram II

According to an NFL Network report, the final day of the 10-day self-quarantine period for Dobbins and Ingram is Tuesday, making them eligible to be activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list and play Wednesday. The Ravens have until 12:30 p.m. Wednesday to submit any transactions ahead of their game. Given that Dobbins and Ingram haven’t had any practice time in almost two weeks, the Ravens are expected to keep the two sidelined. If that’s the case, Williams, an undrafted rookie, could be elevated to the active roster.

Special teams

Who’s available: P Sam Koch, K Justin Tucker, LS Nick Moore (practice squad)

Who’s out: LS Morgan Cox

It seems that a pandemic is the only thing that could have separated the Wolfpack. Cox will miss his first game since the 2015 season but the Ravens have a replacement in Nick Moore, whom the team kept — and through the first 11 weeks of the regular season, protected — on the practice squad for this very reason.

Wide receiver

Who’s available: Miles Boykin, Marquise Brown, Dez Bryant, Devin Duvernay, James Proche II, Jaylon Moore (practice squad)

Who’s out: Willie Snead IV

The wide receivers group only lost Snead to the outbreak, but in recent weeks, he’s been the position’s most productive performer. Brown and Boykin, who have combined for two catches and 14 yards the past two games, will need to step up. Bryant, who amid the coronavirus chaos was officially signed to the 53-man roster, should also see another bump in his involvement within the offense.


Limited but manageable

Offensive line

Who’s available: G/C Bradley Bozeman, G Ben Bredeson, T Orlando Brown Jr., C Trystan Colon-Castillo, G/T D.J. Fluker, G/T Tyre Phillips, G Ben Powers, T Jake Rodgers, T R.J. Prince (practice squad)

Who’s out: G/T Will Holden (reserve/COVID-19 list; previously on practice squad), G/C Patrick Mekari, C/G Matt Skura

The interior of the Ravens’ offensive line took a big hit as a result of the outbreak, with the team’s top two centers sidelined. Colon-Castillo, an undrafted rookie, could make the first start of his career at center. Or it could be Bozeman, who played center at Alabama. Holden rotated series at right tackle with Fluker against the Tennessee Titans but Fluker might regain that role in a full-time capacity with Holden sidelined. Phillips’ return from an ankle injury is a positive development for the line, which now has a bit more flexibility at guard and tackle.

Linebacker

Who’s available: ILB Chris Board, OLB Tyus Bowser, OLB Jaylon Ferguson, ILB L.J. Fort, ILB Malik Harrison, ILB Patrick Queen, ILB Kristian Welch, OLB Aaron Adeoye (practice squad), OLB Chauncey Rivers (practice squad)

Who’s out: OLB Matthew Judon, OLB Pernell McPhee

The Ravens defense will be without Judon, a top edge rusher, and McPhee, a top edge setter. Bowser and Ferguson seem primed for starting roles and will each need to have one of the best games of their young careers if the Ravens hope to beat the Steelers. Adeoye and Rivers could be elevated to the active roster as rotational pieces on game day. All of the team’s top inside linebackers will be available Wednesday afternoon.

Quarterback

Who’s available: Robert Griffin III, Trace McSorley, Tyler Huntley (practice squad)

Who’s out: Lamar Jackson

With Jackson, the NFL’s reigning Most Valuable Player, out because of a positive COVID-19 test, Griffin will fill in Wednesday. Griffin will make his first start since Week 17 of the 2019 season, a win against the Steelers, although the makeup of both teams is vastly different. McSorley was activated off the reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday after landing on the list almost two weeks ago and he could back up Griffin. If not, Huntley, an undrafted rookie, is expected to be elevated to the active roster.


Severely limited

Tight end/fullback

Who’s available: Sean Culkin (practice squad), Eric Tomlinson (practice squad), Luke Willson (practice squad)

Who’s out: Mark Andrews, Patrick Ricard

The Ravens didn’t add a tight end to the 53-man roster after Nick Boyle’s season-ending knee injury in Week 10 but signed Willson to the practice squad and made him active against the Titans. Ricard also continued to take on tight end duties. But with both sidelined and the tight end/fullback position playing a crucial role in offensive coordinator Greg Roman’s scheme, there’s a good chance that two, and maybe all three, of the practice squad tight ends are elevated to the active roster.

Defensive line

Who’s available: DT Justin Ellis, DE Yannick Ngakoue, DT Broderick Washington, DE Derek Wolfe, DT Aaron Crawford (practice squad)

Who’s out: DE Calais Campbell, DT Justin Madubuike, DE Jihad Ward, DT Brandon Williams (ankle injury)

There were already doubts regarding whether Campbell (calf strain) would recover in time to play against the Steelers. Williams (ankle) was activated off the reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday shortly thereafter ruled out. Madubuike, a rookie who has played well in recent weeks, and Ward, who has been inactive the past month but figured to be an option against Pittsburgh, were placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. This places more strain on interior linemen Ellis, Washington and Wolfe, who have had to take on larger workloads without the defense’s top two linemen. Fortunately for the Ravens, the Steelers frequently use three- and four-wide receiver sets, which might decrease snaps needed from their linemen. Crawford is an option on the practice squad who could provide the unit some depth.

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