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Ravens Insider: Ravens LT Ronnie Stanley wishes he didn’t have to ‘fight through’ another injury but sees ‘opportunity to evolve’


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Ronnie Stanley knows his injured right knee will be a constant worry for as long as the Ravens play this season.

The movements he makes to create leverage against the scariest pass rushers in the world simply are not comfortable, and there’s only so much the team’s left tackle can do about it.

It’s a drag — no other way to put it, really — that he’s managing another destabilizing injury after he enjoyed a healthy offseason for the first time since 2020.

At the same time, Stanley believes he’s playing for the most promising team of his eight-season tenure in Baltimore, and he knows that team probably will not achieve its potential without him securing franchise quarterback Lamar Jackson’s blind side.

“It may not be how I want to feel going into the game,” he said. “But it’s just something you have to fight through. I’m going to continue to fight through it.”

Stanley will be in the spotlight Sunday night as he matches up with the Jacksonville Jaguars’ top defender, Josh Allen, a “good mix of speed and power” who is tied for third in the NFL with 13 1/2 sacks and has finished with at least three quarterback pressures in every game this season.

Stanley is used to trying to erase these long, twitchy menaces, but it doesn’t come as easily as it once did, before multiple ankle surgeries and the knee injury that has hampered him this season.

Coach John Harbaugh did not mince words the day after Stanley played one of his worst games of the season in a Nov. 26 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers.

Asked if his left tackle would benefit from a two-week break before the Ravens’ next game against the Rams, Harbaugh said: “I do think that it’s going to be beneficial for him. It’s something that’s been … It’s not been great. I think he’d probably be the first person to tell you it’s not been great. He needs to get stronger and get his technique right. He needs to get out at practice and keep growing back into … He’s a great player. We want to get him back into playing at that high level.”

Stanley did, in fact, return as a more effective player against the Rams. Though he wasn’t point man in the key matchup of the day against star defensive tackle Aaron Donald, Harbaugh pointed out that the Ravens’ focus on Donald left Stanley and right tackle Morgan Moses on islands against the Rams’ edge defenders.

Stanley allowed just two hurries in 44 pass blocking snaps, per Pro Football Focus, and earned his highest pass blocking grade of the season.

“I thought he had a good game, and I think he’s going to build off that,” Harbaugh said. “He looked really good. We had a tough job with those guys. We did a pretty good job of neutralizing No. 99 [Donald]. He had his plays. He made some plays, but we got him blocked a number of times, too, so I was proud of that for the guys. When you do that, and you send so much attention to the one player, then you have other guys in one-on-one battles, and they have to win.”

Stanley first hurt his knee in the Ravens’ opener. After he missed the next three games, he returned with a subpar performance, allowing a season-high nine pressures in 45 pass blocking snaps in a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. He played well the next five games, then collapsed to the field, clutching the same knee in the Ravens’ Nov. 12 loss to the Cleveland Browns. In his first game back, two weeks later against the Chargers, he was not himself.

The pattern was clear in each case. He needed an extra week to, as Harbaugh said, regain strength and sharpen his technique.

“Time during the week, being able to adjust to and evolve with the situation, that definitely helps,” Stanley said. “Also, just having extra recovery time. Further out from the injury, barring anything happening in the game before, you get closer to the best you can get.”

Browns Ravens Football
Browns defensive end Myles Garrett, left, rushes the passer while being blocked by Ravens left tackle Ronnie Stanley on Nov. 12.
Terrance Williams/AP
Ravens left tackle Ronnie Stanley tries to block Browns defensive end Myles Garrett on Nov. 12. Stanley is managing another destabilizing injury after he enjoyed a healthy offseason for the first time since 2020. (AP Photo/Terrance Williams)

Stanley spoke warily — he has endured more than his share of setbacks since he suffered a terrible ankle injury in 2020, a year after he’d been named All-Pro and earned a $98.75 million contract — but with some optimism about the improving state of his knee.

“He’s certainly fought through,” offensive coordinator Todd Monken said. “I think that the knee is going to continue to strengthen. I thought he worked awfully hard last week to get to that point, and it’s only going to continue to get stronger, just like he said.”

Ravens guard Kevin Zeitler said each injury presents a puzzle that can only be solved through repetitions in practice or in games.

“It all depends what’s hurting,” he said. “You hurt one thing, and three other things are affected. You have to change things as necessary, and it’s frustrating, because you know the things you can do. But it’s a learning adjustment. For Ronnie, it seems like he was getting rolled up every game. Thank God he’s flexible, and it wasn’t worse, but it’s something where you have to learn to work with it the longer you go.”

Not coincidentally, Stanley’s lesser outings contributed to some of the Ravens’ worst offensive performances of the season. They need him to be good, even if he can’t be the league’s best pass blocker as he was in 2019.

To that end, Harbaugh tried a new approach, suggested by offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris, playing Patrick Mekari at left tackle and Daniel Faalele at right tackle for whole drives against the Rams to lighten the loads on Stanley and the 32-year-old Moses.

“The idea was to split the workload up and also help Ronnie and Morgan be the strongest they could be in the fourth quarter,” Harbaugh said. “That was our thinking, and it sure turned out to be a wise move.”

Stanley also wore a cumbersome brace outside his uniform pants, trading comfort for stability. “It’s just to provide more support for the ligament itself,” he explained. “It doesn’t feel the best. I definitely like playing without it more.”

At age 29, Stanley sounds tired when he talks about preparing to play without 100% confidence in his knee. At times this year, he’s thought, “I can’t catch a break when it comes to this.”

He also understands most NFL stars confront similar obstacles as they play into their second and third contracts.

“I’m just looking at it as an opportunity to evolve,” he said. “To find a way to play at the level I want to play at, even with the injuries.”

Week 15

Ravens at Jaguars

Sunday, 8:20 p.m.


Radio: 97.9 FM, 101.5 FM, 1090 AM

Line: Ravens by 3

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