Week 1 of the NFL season is officially here and subterfuge is in full force.
Ahead of Sunday’s season opener at home against the Cleveland Browns, Ravens coach John Harbaugh declined to divulge the team’s starting offensive line.
“No, we’re just going to go practice and play the game,” Harbaugh said Monday on a video conference call. “We’re not going to really talk about the depth chart too much.”
A similar situation unfolded last season, as the team kept its starter at left guard hidden until it took the field for Week 1 against the Miami Dolphins. After auditioning multiple players at the spot in training camp, Bradley Bozeman was the starter, and he went on to start every game that season.
This year, the team’s starting center and right guard remain a question just days before the opener. Matt Skura and Patrick Mekari split time at center in training camp, and Harbaugh praised Skura’s recovery from his significant knee injury but did not tip his hand on the starter.
Veteran D.J. Fluker and rookie Tyre Phillips have also had opportunities at right guard. The team did not keep a true swing tackle on its initial 53-man roster, opening the possibility for one of the two to be used in that role.
Harbaugh was just as secretive on the state of the team’s injuries, saying “it’s possible” that all 53 players could be available for Sunday — and that some players could miss the game.
Harbaugh last week said rookie defensive tackle Justin Madubuike is “week-to-week” after suffering an injury in the team’s scrimmage. Wide receiver Chris Moore missed all of padded practices with a broken finger. And running back Justice Hill missed multiple practices as training camp came to a close.
Harbaugh has said the team isn’t dealing with any serious injuries. If the Ravens believe a player will miss multiple games, new injured reserve rules this season would allow a player to be placed on IR and return after three games.
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The team’s first injury report will be released Wednesday.