On a third-quarter passing play, the starting left tackle fell after a Carolina Panthers defender rolled up on him. Stanley had to be helped off the field by athletic trainers and missed the rest of the series and the Ravens’ next drive as well. He later returned to his familiar position with about two minutes left in the third quarter, and was seen exiting the locker room after the game with a walking boot on his left foot.
With Stanley out, the Ravens called on second-year guard-tackle Jermaine Eluemunor to fill in, which he did capably. Eluemunor was cut earlier this season before going unclaimed, being added to the practice squad and getting promoted to the active roster Tuesday.
The Ravens offensive line had entered the game at far from full strength. Starting right tackle James Hurst was out for the second straight week with a back injury, as was left guard Alex Lewis (neck). When the starters took the field Sunday, they included left guard Hroniss Grasu, a midseason acquisition who failed to make the Chicago Bears’ 53-man season-opening roster; center Matt Skura, an undrafted player who played most of last season at guard; and right tackle Orlando Brown Jr., a rookie who made his first NFL start last week.
Bolstered by rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson and a couple of decent runs by Alex Collins, the Ravens averaged 5.6 yards per carry and finished with 101 yards overall. But the line changes made things “very difficult,” coach John Harbaugh said.
Quarterback Joe Flacco was sacked twice and hit seven times, and the line allowed Panthers defensive tackle Kyle Love to surge into the backfield almost untouched and jar the ball loose from Collins on a bang-bang handoff play early in the second quarter. Carolina needed to go just 12 yards for its second touchdown drive, and the game was never so close after that.
“It’s always tough that that’s the way it has to be, but that’s NFL football,” Flacco said. “Everybody would love it if the 11 guys [on offense] … stayed completely healthy all year, and you never had to deal with anything like that. But that’s not the name of this game, and we all know that. We know we are going to have to make these little adjustments here and there with who is playing where and what.
“You can talk about that all day, but it doesn’t matter at the end of the day. The only thing that matters is that we see that ‘W’ or that ‘L’ on the schedule at the end of the day.”