When starting left tackle Ronnie Stanley went down in the third quarter of the Ravens’ 36-21 loss at the Carolina Panthers after a defender rolled into his left ankle, the team was left with only one option to replace him in guard Jermaine Eluemunor, who said Wednesday that he had not lined up at left tackle since his playing days at Lackawanna College in Scranton, Pa.
“I’ve been playing that position in practice,” said Eluemunor (pronounced eh-LOO-muh-nor), who played 19 snaps. “So it was fun.”
Having spent a majority of his time at the left and right guard spots, the 6-foot-4, 335-pound fifth-round draft pick in 2017 credited offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris for having the foresight to give him some practice repetitions at left tackle against teammates such as Terrell Suggs and Matthew Judon.
“I’ve just been practicing it a ton,” Eluemunor said. “Going against Judon and ‘Sizz’ all the time, I’ve had really good practice against some of the best edge rushers. I’ve just been preparing mentally and physically for the opportunity.”
Stanley has missed two consecutive practices, which does not bode well for his availability for Sunday’s home game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. James Hurst would ordinarily be the next option, but he has been sidelined since Oct. 20 by a back injury. Left guard Alex Lewis has some experience playing tackle, but he has been limited for two straight days by a pinched nerve in his neck.
Six-time Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda and center Matt Skura could be the only starters on the offensive line from the season opener against the Buffalo Bills to play Sunday. But offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said he abhors the idea of simplifying the blocking schemes.
“Too much is just as bad as not enough in those types [of situations],” he said Thursday. “But there is that fine line — you make a good point. I learned this a long, long time ago: let’s not underestimate how much the players can do and perform. They can do an awful lot. We have a lot of sharp guys. Now, doing it together becomes important. So Joe D has done a fantastic job. I mean, hats off to the fellas who played last week. They played well, [but] now [have to be] even better. We have to do better — all of us — starting with me. We have to do better. So that’s where we’re at up front.”
Eluemunor, who started two games at right guard last season after Yanda went down with a fractured left ankle before ceding the position to Skura, is eager for another shot at starting.
“I’ve just got to keep working hard in practice and showing them what I can do,” he said. “I had the opportunity last year and didn’t really take full advantage of it. So in my second year, I want to take advantage of my opportunity if I get it.”