No group of Ravens players welcomed Alex Lewis’ reappearance on the team’s charter flight from Nashville to Baltimore after Sunday’s 21-0 shutout of the Tennessee Titans more warmly than his teammates along the offensive line. The left guard suffered a neck injury in the fourth quarter, was carted off the field, and taken to nearby Vanderbilt University Medical Center for additional examinations.
“That was definitely an answer to prayer,” right tackle James Hurst said. “We were all worried about him. But we’re happy to hear that the worst didn’t happen.”
Four days before Sunday’s home game against the New Orleans Saints, the team is bracing for the possibility that Lewis will be unavailable. The organization’s fourth-round pick in the 2016 NFL draft was absent from Wednesday’s portion of practice open to the media because of what coach John Harbaugh described as “a pinched nerve.”
“That can heal like that,” he said, snapping his fingers, “or it can take a little bit of time. So it’s really just kind of day to day is the best way to describe it.”
Lewis has started all six games for an offensive line that has turned back opposing pass rushes on 75.6 percent of quarterback Joe Flacco’s dropbacks, according to Pro Football Focus. Among qualified quarterbacks, only the Chicago Bears’ Mitchell Trubisky ranks higher, according to the scouting website.
When Lewis went out on Sunday, Hurst briefly moved from right tackle to left guard, and rookie Orlando Brown Jr. filled in at right tackle. But Hurst was shifted back to right tackle and rookie Bradley Bozeman lined up at left guard.
The Ravens could continue with Bozeman at left guard or go back to Hurst at left guard and Brown at right tackle. Bozeman, the third of three sixth-round picks in April, said making the first start of his career would be thrilling.
“I’ve worked my whole life for this, and if I did, that would be awesome,” he said. “But if not, whoever goes in that position is going be well-off, and I’ll be happy. There’s nothing but tremendous athletes in this building, and even if they get in front of me, that’s fine because I know that they deserve it.”
Hurst said he trusts that offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris and Harbaugh will select the right personnel for Sunday against the Saints.
“We’ll have to move people around and put the best five out there,” he said. “That’s the way it’s always been. Joe D talks about that all the time, and we’ve talked to Coach Harbaugh about that as well. It’s about giving us the best chance to win. So whatever combination that is, that’s obviously their call. We just go out there and play.”