Terrance West seemed to cement his grip on the primary tailback role for the Ravens with his career-high 113-yard, one-touchdown performance in Sunday’s 28-27 loss to the Oakland Raiders. But that wasn't enough for coach John Harbaugh's immediate vote of confidence.
During his weekly news conference Monday at the team’s training facility in Owings Mills, Harbaugh declined to declare West the starting running back despite the Northwestern High and Towson University product registering the team's first 100-yard rushing game since Oct. 11, 2015, when Justin Forsett went for 121 yards and a score against the Cleveland Browns.
“I’m not going to say that,” Harbaugh said. “I’m not going to get into all that. I just think that’s great to write about, but for us, it’s nothing for us to waste any energy on. We’re going to put the guys out there that are playing well. Our guys know this: If you’re playing hard, you’re playing smart, you’re playing fundamentally sound, and you’re productive, you’ve got a chance being out there again because everybody’s counting on everybody else to get the job done. If one of those things falls down, then you leave the door open for another guy to get their opportunity.”
With rookie Kenneth Dixon on the mend from a strained medial collateral ligament in his left knee, suffered in the team’s third preseason game on Aug. 27, the offense could have four tailbacks in West, Forsett, Dixon, and Javorius Allen. The Ravens have activated two for each game.
Forsett’s struggles (98 yards on 31 carries) and the team’s decision to deactivate him prior to Sunday’s game hint that he could be the odd man out if the organization needs to make a roster move.
Asked if Forsett has a spot on the roster moving forward, Harbaugh said, “Of course,” before offering an ambiguous explanation of Forsett’s role moving forward.
“Justin Forsett is a highly respected, highly valued guy in my eyes and the eyes of all of us,” Harbaugh said. “It’s a competitive world that we’re in. It’s a competitive league, a competitive sport, and he knows that as well as anybody. It doesn’t diminish him in any way. It enhances him in terms of how you handle it. We’ll just have to see. All of those personnel things are all to be determined. You can’t say anything about where anything is going to go. You just don’t know. None of us have that ability to see into the future. So we’ll see how it plays out.”
End zone: Rookie left tackle Ronnie Stanley missed his first start of his career because of a foot injury that has plagued him for roughly two weeks. Harbaugh did not outline a timetable for the return of the sixth overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft. “We’ve just got to keep working on his foot,” Harbaugh said. “I know Ronnie says he could have played, and he probably could have, and he could probably play this week. We just have to see how we decide to do it along with what the doctors say, and we’ll figure it out.”
>> Before quarterback Joe Flacco’s final pass for wide receiver Kamar Aiken was batted away by Oakland free safety Reggie Nelson to seal the Ravens loss, Justin Tucker could have lined up for what would have been a field-goal attempt of 67 or 68 yards on fourth-and-10 from the 50. But Harbaugh said that option was not seriously considered. “I felt like we needed to try to get the first down there,” he said. “I can see your point, but that would have been asking a lot on a grass field that was a little soft.”
>> Harbaugh said tight end Maxx Williams, who left Sunday’s game in the second quarter, is dealing with a cartilage issue in his knee. “It’s not something that can be fixed until it’s fixed,” Harbaugh said. “So it’s just something he’s got to play with and play through. The doctors have to tell us what’s the best course of action going forward. He can still play, but is it the best thing for him and all that? We have to figure all of that out.”
>> Tight end Darren Waller is eligible to return from his four-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on substance abuse. The team would have to release a player if it added Waller to the active roster, but has until Oct. 10 before making a decision. Harbaugh said all options are being considered. “We’ll see how that plays out,” he said. “We don’t have to for a week, I think is the rule. So we’ll have to see where we go with that, and what we’re able to do, too.”