PALM BEACH, Fla. — After shoring up the Ravens’ right tackle situation last season, Patrick Mekari is expected to do the same at center in 2022.
At the NFL owners meetings Monday in Palm Beach, Florida, coach John Harbaugh said Mekari would “step right in, probably,” as the starter. Bradley Bozeman, who graded out as one of the NFL’s better centers last season, left in free agency after signing a one-year deal with the Carolina Panthers.
With only a few starting-level centers available, Harbaugh said he “highly doubt[s]” that the team can find an upgrade in free agency.
“The draft, obviously, is an option,” Harbaugh said. “But we have great options right in our locker room right now. And Pat Mekari, Trystan Colon, those guys have done a great job for us. Love the way those guys play. Love the way they develop. And of course Pat, he’s played lots of football. And he can do it. He’ll step right in, probably, as the starter, and then Trystan will compete. And we’ll see where we’re at from there.”
Mekari started a career-high 12 games at right tackle last season, his third year in Baltimore. In December, after Mekari signed a three-year, $15.5 million contract extension, Harbaugh wouldn’t commit to the former undrafted free agent remaining at right tackle, saying “a big part of his value is the fact that he can do all the jobs.”
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Two weeks ago, the Ravens signed right tackle Morgan Moses to a three-year, $15 million deal. General manager Eric DeCosta said Moses would “fill a void for us in that right tackle position,” indicating that Mekari would return to an interior line position — he started a combined 13 games at center in 2019 and 2020 — or enter the season as the team’s swing tackle.
Colon, meanwhile, has started three games at center over his first two years in Baltimore and has played 274 offensive snaps.
The Ravens should enter training camp with at least one of their top returning pass rushers cleared to practice. Harbaugh said the team’s athletic training staff has told him that outside linebacker Odafe Oweh is “doing great” after offseason shoulder surgery.
“It shouldn’t be a problem at all,” said Harbaugh, who didn’t detail Oweh’s specific injury. “That’s one of those ones where you get back pretty quickly. It should be no problem for training camp.”
Oweh, who had five sacks and 15 quarterback hits as a rookie, missed the Ravens’ final two games with a foot injury but also dealt with a shoulder injury late in the season.
Harbaugh said in late January that outside linebacker Tyus Bowser (career-high seven sacks), who tore his Achilles tendon in the team’s season finale, would return by the start of the regular season. He could be back before then, too.
“I think Tyus will be back for training camp; that’s my prediction,” Harbaugh said at his end-of-season news conference. “That’s my timeline, so I’m going to stick with that.”
- Running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards could enter training camp on the physically-unable-to-perform list, Harbaugh said. Both are recovering from ACL tears suffered last preseason. “Those guys are doing a good job,” Harbaugh said. “We’ll probably play it safe a little bit with those guys and take our time and just bring them along for the season.”
- Left tackle Ronnie Stanley is “doing well, by all accounts,” as he recovers from his second straight season-ending ankle injury, Harbaugh said. Stanley met recently with new head athletic trainer Adrian Dixon, who told Harbaugh that Stanley is “doing great.” Stanley is expected to participate in the team’s offseason workout program, according to Harbaugh, as his rehabilitation progresses. “We won’t be hurrying him back into practice by any stretch,” Harbaugh said. “We’ll be looking to get him back for the season. It’ll be very important for us.”
- Malik Harrison will cross-train at inside linebacker and outside linebacker this offseason, Harbaugh said. Harrison, a third-round draft pick in 2020, started five games at inside linebacker last season next to Patrick Queen but struggled. After being struck by a stray bullet in the left calf in late October, he spent some time in practice as an edge defender. With Bowser sidelined, Harrison will share practice repetitions at strong-side outside linebacker with Daelin Hayes. “He’s going to be on the depth chart as an inside guy, as a ‘Mike’ guy,” Harbaugh said of Harrison. “I want to go see him take that thing over, go get that job.”
- Harbaugh said he’s hopeful that defensive lineman Derek Wolfe, who missed all of last season with back and hip injuries, will participate in the team’s offseason workout program. “I know he’s a guy who trains and prepares, so if he doesn’t come back right away, he doesn’t have to. He’ll be ready to go. He would help us a lot. He’s a good player, a great guy. I’m really hoping he’s back playing for us next year.”