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Ravens rookie Greg Senat ‘mentally ready’ to start at left tackle if need arises

In a span of about five weeks, Ravens offensive tackle Greg Senat has gone from injury concern to backup to potential starter for Saturday’s preseason game at the Miami Dolphins.

If that’s the case, Senat said Wednesday that he welcomes the challenge.

“You know that in the NFL, anything can happen,” said Senat, the Ravens’ second of three sixth-round draft picks in April. “You just have to be ready for your number to be called. I think I’ve been mentally ready for something like this to happen, and now I just have to go out there and work.”

That scenario is moving closer to becoming reality after the team practiced Wednesday without starting left tackle Ronnie Stanley and primary reserve James Hurst. Stanley suffered what coach John Harbaugh called a left knee strain early in the second quarter of the Ravens’ 20-19 win at the Indianapolis Colts on Monday. Hurst reportedly sustained an unspecified injury of his own later in the quarter.

Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg indicated he is curious to see how Senat develops against the Dolphins and in the Aug. 30 preseason finale against the Washington Redskins.

“The really good thing — and we’ve had several players do this — [is] they don’t have much work under their belts, but they’re getting better every day, and he got better from last week to this past week,” Mornhinweg said. “So that’s a good thing, and let’s see how far he can go in the next two weeks.”

The 6-foot-6, 305-pound Senat’s path was bumpy after he missed the first 10 practices of training camp because of a left foot injury. Despite just four days of practice, he lined up at left tackle with the second group of offensive linemen in the first quarter of a victory over the Los Angeles Rams on Aug. 9.

Senat said he has benefited from playing in the preseason games.

“That’s helped a lot,” he said. “I’ve been able to get some experience under my belt, and the game’s slowing down. It’s huge coming off the injury, like I said. I think that was kind of good, getting thrown into the fire. It makes you react a little faster.”

Senat acknowledged the biggest adjustment for him is flipping to left tackle after playing primarily right tackle at Wagner for two seasons.

“It’s a bit of a difference,” he said. “The mechanics are different, you’re looking over a different shoulder, you’re punching with a different hand. But I’ve been playing left tackle here since I got drafted. So I’ve got a few months under my belt to be able to get used to the footwork and everything like that. So I think I’m developing that muscle memory right now.”

With Stanley and Hurst dealing with injuries and six-time Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda yet to play in the preseason after recovering from offseason right shoulder surgery, the Ravens might want to consider whether to play starting quarterback Joe Flacco in Miami. Whether Flacco, rookie Lamar Jackson or Robert Griffin III starts Saturday, Senat shrugged off any notion of increased scrutiny.

“I don’t think it’s a lot of pressure,” he said. “I think if you start thinking that way, it can get into your head and you can make silly mistakes. At the end of the day, it’s a job, it’s something I do every day. I’m just going to keep working at it and get better every day to help protect Joe and help this team win.”

edward.lee@baltsun.com

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