Ravens left tackle Ronnie Stanley was carted off the field in the first quarter of Sunday’s 28-24 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers with a severe ankle injury that coach John Harbaugh said was season-ending.
Stanley, who signed a five-year extension with the team Friday reportedly worth $112.9 million overall, got his leg rolled up as Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt attempted to sack quarterback Lamar Jackson.
Trainers quickly put an aircast on Stanley’s left leg. Almost the entire Ravens sideline, as well as several Steelers players, walked onto the field as a show of support as Stanley was helped onto the cart. Stanley clapped and formed his hands in a prayer motion while leaving the field as the limited crowd at M&T Bank Stadium applauded the All-Pro.
Shortly after Sunday’s game, Stanley wrote on Twitter: “So many emotions running thru my head. I’m thankful for all the love and support. I hate feeling like I let my brothers down. What I do know is God doesn’t make mistakes and I’m grateful for the bad days just as much as the good. Just another challenge to overcome.”
“That’s somebody who’s helped me throughout my career,” right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. said. “Someone that did what he needed to do to put himself and his family up for the rest of their lives. And losing someone like that, a leader like that to this team and this offensive line, it’s hard to put into words the effect that takes on you a little bit as [far as] morale. But it’s the NFL, and unfortunately, the mentality is next man up. So, however things unfold, we have to go out there and do our best week in and week out.”
Stanley’s injury was the second blow to the Ravens offensive line during the opening quarter. Rookie right guard Tyre Phillips exited the game after injuring his ankle one drive earlier and was ruled out at halftime.
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Harbaugh said he did not have an update on the severity of Phillips' injury.
With Stanley out of the game, Brown moved from right tackle to left tackle and D.J. Fluker entered the game at right tackle. The two manned those positions in Week 5 when Stanley was sidelined with a shoulder injury. Stanley, the sixth overall pick in the 2016 draft, was Pro Football Focus' highest-graded pass blocker in 2019 and ranked No. 2 in the league entering Sunday’s game.
Patrick Mekari entered the game at right guard for Phillips.
Even with two starting linemen sidelined for the majority of the game, the Ravens rushed for a season-high 265 yards. Rookie running back J.K. Dobbins led the effort, recording his first career 100-yard rushing game (113 yards on 15 carries).
Entering the season, the Ravens were already light at offensive tackle. The team signed Fluker in the offseason and he competed with Phillips for the starting right guard spot, but the coaching staff felt more comfortable with him in a swing tackle position.
Mekari, second-year player Ben Powers, rookie Ben Bredeson and undrafted rookie Trystan Trystan Colon-Castillo are all more experienced at interior positions. The team could sign Will Holden, a practice-squad lineman who took reps at tackle in training camp, to the 53-man roster. The NFL’s trade deadline is 4 p.m. Tuesday and the team could also opt to sign a free agent, but with a six-day COVID-19 onboarding process for new players, either route would likely make a new player unavailable for next Sunday’s road game against the Indianapolis Colts.
“[I have] a lot of optimism, man,” Brown said. "We have some guys that really want it and really want to win, and they’re hard fighters. D.J. Fluker is a hard fighter. He’s been through a lot in his life and career. Same thing with Patrick Mekari — being an undrafted free agent. Matt Skura, Bradley Bozeman — man, just a bunch of great men. And Coach ‘D,’ [offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris] everything that he instills in us. Man, I have a lot of optimism for us going forward.”