OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh’s steely resolve is being tested with nine players already lost for the season because of injuries, suspension or retirement.
Nonetheless, Harbaugh contends the Ravens have enough depth to overcome those challenges.
Several players will get a chance to bolster that optimism in the second preseason game Thursday night against the Miami Dolphins. Harbaugh is hoping his short-handed team can build off a solid performance in last week’s 23-3 victory over the Washington Redskins.
“You’re talking about the ability to stack performances,” Harbaugh said. “You prove it’s not a one-time deal in a game. You come back the next week and have success again. Then, the third week, you do it again and that’s how you establish yourself as a guy who can win in this league.
“Going down to Miami, you’re on the road for the first time with the young guys playing a very good team. Probably be hot down there, I guess. It will be hot or it will be raining, one of the two, probably both. It will be good for us and I am looking forward to seeing how those guys do.”
Seven players are out for the season because of injuries, including potential starters Dennis Pitta and Crockett Gillmore both at tight end, cornerback Tavon Young and left guard Alex Lewis.
John Urschel, who was expected to compete for the starting job at center, decided to retire just hours before the first full-squad practice of training camp. And, Darren Waller, a sixth-round pick in 2015, is suspended without pay for one year for also violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy for the second time.
“It’s football,” Harbaugh said. “You’re going to have injuries. You’re going to have guys retire.”
Baltimore has struggled with continuity on the offensive line because coaches have been consistently forced to shuffle players.
Starting left tackle Ronnie Stanley has missed three practices this week with an undisclosed injury and is likely out against Miami. Six-time Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda had offseason shoulder surgery and is easing his way back into the lineup.
Compounding the problem, quarterback Joe Flacco has still not practiced because of a back injury. Baltimore did sign veteran Austin Howard on Aug. 4 to help stabilize the offensive line and he could be available to play in Miami.
Ravens offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said there is still time for the offense to get in sync leading up to the regular season opener Sept. 10 against the Cincinnati Bengals.
“It looks like we are going to have just enough time there to get (Flacco) ready as long as he keeps progressing, and by all accounts, he is progressing pretty well.” Mornhinweg said.
On the other side of the ball, the Ravens have shown solid depth, especially with their defensive ends and tackles. Baltimore held Washington to just 138 total yards, including 39 on the ground, and had three sacks in the preseason opener. That defense has been a boost to the Ravens’ overall confidence.
“We have a lot of really good D-linemen, and they can’t all make the team, probably.” Harbaugh said. “But we have depth, and I’m really excited about those guys. That competition makes everybody better.”