James Hurst and Alex Lewis were two of four Ravens offensive linemen and three starters who did not practice Wednesday, and their status for Sunday’s home game against the Pittsburgh Steelers is uncertain.
Despite injuries that prevented starting left tackle Ronnie Stanley (left foot) and rookie center/guard Bradley Bozeman (left calf) from also participating, Hurst and Lewis said the plight of the offensive line does not provide a greater incentive to return.
“I understand what you’re saying, but my personal incentive is that I want to be out there regardless,” said Hurst, who started the team’s first six games at right tackle before a back injury opened the door for rookie Orlando Brown Jr. to start in back-to-back losses to the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers. “That’s the way I look at it. If I’m healthy enough to play, I’m going to play, regardless of the other situations. Unfortunately, we’ve had a lot of offensive line stuff happen at the same time, and that’s not ideal. The way I look at it is, if I can play, I will play, and those other outside sources can’t influence that.”
Lewis has not played his usual left guard spot since Oct. 14, when he sustained a pinched nerve in his neck in the fourth quarter of a 21-0 victory at the Tennessee Titans. Bozeman started for Lewis against New Orleans before suffering his calf ailment, and Hroniss Grasu started at Carolina.
Stanley was injured in the third quarter against the Panthers and was briefly replaced by Jermaine Eluemunor. The team had only eight healthy offensive linemen (three practice-squad members) Wednesday.
Lewis and Hurst said they are eager to play.
“I’m antsy right now,” Lewis said. “I don’t like not playing football, that’s for sure. So the sooner, the better.”
In addition to the three starting linemen, the Ravens practiced Wednesday without four more starters in cornerbacks Brandon Carr (not injury related) and Marlon Humphrey (thigh), strong safety Tony Jefferson (hamstring) and middle linebacker C.J. Mosley (thigh).
Outside linebacker Tim Williams also did not participate. He walked around in the locker room with a protective boot on his right foot. Running back Alex Collins was limited by a foot ailment.
Pittsburgh missed three starters in outside linebacker Bud Dupree (illness), center Maurkice Pouncey (coaches’ decision) and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (left index finger/coaches’ decision). Roethlisberger fractured the finger in Sunday’s 33-18 victory over the Cleveland Browns, but is expected to play Sunday.
Starting right tackle Marcus Gilbert (knee) practiced fully after sitting out the win against Cleveland.
Cox quiet on penalty
On Monday, coach John Harbaugh revealed that the illegal-shift penalty that negated a direct snap and 7-yard gain by defensive back Anthony Levine Sr. on a fake punt in the first quarter of Sunday’s 36-21 loss against the Panthers was called on Morgan Cox. On Wednesday, the long snapper declined to say specifically what he had done to draw the flag.
“I watched the film, and it’s hard to say,” he said. “I don’t think I would do a whole lot different, but [the official] saw what he saw, and that’s what I’m going to live by.”
Cox acknowledged the significance of the penalty, saying, “We would have loved to have converted it. Frustrated would be the word. But in that moment, it’s called, and I know I’ve got another play coming up. So I knew I couldn’t dwell on it a whole lot.”
Quarterback Joe Flacco showed up to his weekly conference Wednesday without his usual beard that he had been sporting for several weeks, and he is hopeful that the change will also help the team end a two-game losing skid. “I’ve been thinking about cutting it about every night for two weeks,” he said. “It’s not like we’ve been winning with it. So we’ve all got a little bit of superstition in us, I guess.” … Although inside linebacker Albert McClellan was released Tuesday to make room for newly acquired running back/wide receiver Ty Montgomery, he might return to the team soon. “I’m hoping to get Albert back here in a day or two, to be honest with you,” Harbaugh said. “We’ll see how that goes.”