Ravens left tackle Patrick Mekari (ankle), outside linebacker Justin Houston (groin) and defensive tackle Michael Pierce (left arm) were ruled out after suffering injuries during the first half of Sunday’s 37-26 win over the New England Patriots, continuing a worrying trend after last season’s injury-marred season.
Coach John Harbaugh said after the game that Mekari suffered an ankle sprain but “it won’t be long term.” Pierce will get looked at further on Monday to determine the severity of his injury, said Harbaugh, who added that Houston has a strained groin and he is unsure how long the veteran could be out.
“It’s always tough whenever injuries happen, especially because you only get to dress, what, 47, 46 [players on game day]. ... I think our team is pretty deep,” veteran defensive end Calais Campbell said. “We can’t use excuses if somebody got hurt, because I think we really have a lot of talent in this team.”
Mekari suffered a left ankle injury during the first quarter, further depleting an already banged-up offensive line.
Baltimore was facing a third-and-5 with 9:42 on the clock when Mekari stepped on running back Justice Hill’s foot while blocking a New England defender. Mekari punched the field in frustration before being taken to the medical tent and was later carted into the locker room with his shoe and sock removed from his left leg. Mekari signed a three-year extension Dec. 30 and has served as a versatile piece of the offensive line since joining Baltimore as an undrafted free agent in 2019.
Pierce, who signed a three-year deal with the Ravens in the offseason, suffered an apparent left arm injury after trying to tackle Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson with 7:38 left in the second quarter. Pierce walked to the sideline under his own power while grabbing his left arm and was eventually carted into the locker room.
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With Mekari out, the Ravens are down to their fourth-string left tackle. Ronnie Stanley is still working his way back from an ankle injury, while Ja’Wuan James suffered a season-ending torn Achilles tendon in Baltimore’s season opener against the New York Jets.
Rookie Daniel Faalele, who did not play a single snap at left tackle at Minnesota, replaced Mekari and allowed a sack during the Ravens’ 11-play, 69-yard scoring drive that ended with quarterback Lamar Jackson throwing a 5-yard touchdown pass to Mark Andrews with 4:14 left in the first quarter. Jackson was sacked four times, but he threw four touchdown passes and rushed for 107 yards and a touchdown as the Ravens’ rushing attack got back on track behind Justice Hill (six carries for 60 yards) and the returning J.K. Dobbins (seven for 23).
“I didn’t doubt him at all, none of us did,” Jackson said of Faalele, a fourth-round draft pick. “He stepped up major.”
Early in the second quarter, the Ravens announced that Houston was questionable to return before ruling him out in the third. The Ravens are also thin at outside linebacker, as Steven Means suffered a season-ending torn Achilles tendon last week and Tyus Bowser and rookie David Ojabo are recovering from the same injury. Brandon Copeland, a former Gilman standout who was signed to the practice squad on Wednesday and elevated for Sunday’s game, replaced Houston and recorded a sack late in the game.