Jaime HensleyESPN Writer3 minute read
OWINGS MILLS, Md. — All week, the Baltimore Ravens have talked about what the “next man up” will be like for Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals. To be exact, it will be the following. men for the injury-depleted Ravens.
On Friday, the Ravens revealed how short-handed they will be against the two-time defending AFC North champion Bengals, ruling out four starters: offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley (knee), center Tyler Linderbaum (ankle), cornerback Marlon Humphrey ( foot). and safety Marcus Williams (pectoral). All but Humphrey were injured in a costly 25-9 season-opening victory over the Houston Texans.
Along with running back JK Dobbins, who tore his Achilles tendon against the Texans, these five players account for 21.4% of Baltimore’s 2023 salary cap.
“They’re not excuses,” Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson said earlier this week. “It’s tough just because they’re key players, but we’ve got guys that are going to step up and lead us on that field and do what they’re supposed to do.”
The good news for Baltimore is that Pro Bowl tight end Mark Andrews participated fully in practice on Friday, meaning he is expected to play after missing the season opener with a quadriceps injury. The bad news is that there is no telling when any of these other injured players will return.
Dobbins, who had surgery Friday, will be out for the rest of the season. Stanley and Linderbaum could miss several weeks and Williams is expected to be out for an extended period. Humphrey is considered the closest player to returning.
This continues a streak of injury problems for the Ravens as they face the Bengals. Jackson has been injured in the team’s last three trips to Cincinnati, all of them losses. Now, with Jackson healthy, Baltimore will be without half of its starting secondary against quarterback Joe Burrow and will be without two starters on the offensive line.
“Everyone supports each other, and we know that if one goes down, the next guy has to fill the void,” said Ravens wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. “It’s just a mentality thing that I think the very good teams have.” , and I know we have it here.”
Patrick Mekari is expected to replace Stanley at left tackle, and Sam Mustipher is likely to replace Linderbaum at center. Geno Stone will likely take Williams’ place at free safety.
“Our players trust their teammates, their brothers in arms,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “They believe in each other and they’re excited to see those guys play. I understand why it’s an issue, but it’s not really an issue in our inner circle. We’re just going to play.”
With Dobbins done for the season, there has been speculation that Baltimore will split backfield carries between Gus Edwards and Justice Hill.
When asked which Ravens running back would start on his fantasy team, Harbaugh smiled and said, “I’m sorry, I don’t have the fantasy answer. I apologize for that.”
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