Not only could Bronson Kaufusi and Chris Wormley end their season-opening three-game run of being healthy scratches, but one of the Ravens defensive ends could start in Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium. It is a scenario both players have envisioned.
“In this organization, I feel like they do a great job of making sure that everybody is ready,” Kaufusi said after Wednesday’s practice. “So it’s just a next-man-up attitude. If anyone goes down and anyone’s number gets called, it’s just the next man up.”
The opportunity to start for the 6-foot-6, 285-pound Kaufusi, the organization’s third-round pick in 2016, and the 6-5, 300-pound Wormley, the first of two third-round choices in April’s NFL draft, became available after starter Brent Urban suffered a Lisfranc injury — which can involve broken bones or torn ligaments in the midfoot area — on the second play of the second quarter of Sunday’s 44-7 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium in London. The team placed Urban, who had four tackles and one batted pass, on injured reserve Wednesday morning.
Urban had earned praise last week from defensive coordinator Dean Pees for replacing Lawrence Guy, who left in the offseason for the New England Patriots. But coach John Harbaugh said the defense will simply plug-and-play Kaufusi or Wormley in Urban’s spot.
“It won’t change anything we do schematically,” Harbaugh said. “We’re pretty deep in there. We’ve got guys that can play the position, and it just remains to be seen how well they play. I kind of like the guys that are in there, Wormley and Kaufusi. And Carl [Davis] played well. Carl steadily improved, and I think he’s ready to go and can play really great football. So it just depends on how well those guys play.”
Both Kaufusi and Wormley said they hated getting a chance at Urban’s expense. But they also understand that there is an expectation to meet if they play against Pittsburgh.
“There’s a lot of pressure,” Wormley said. “There’s a lot of pressure on Kaufusi and I. Coach Harbaugh has made it a point, Coach Pees has made it a point, and [defensive line] coach [Joe] Cullen has made it a point. When you have those three guys relying on you and the whole team relying on you, there’s pressure. And if there’s not pressure, then you’re in the wrong spot.”