OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Lamar Jackson could have his blind side protected by an All-Pro left tackle in Sunday’s game against Von Miller and the Buffalo Bills.
Ronnie Stanley, a Pro Bowl player in 2019, has had back-to-back full practices for the first time this season. He has missed 31 of the Ravens’ past 32 games (including playoffs) because of a left ankle injury.
“I want to be out there,” Stanley said in his first interview with the Baltimore media in over a year. “I want to be out there as soon as I can. I’m itching to get out there with my teammates. I’m really close. I’m really close.”
Stanley later added, “This could very possibly be the week. I’m very close.”
The Ravens could really use Stanley on Sunday against the Bills. If Stanley can’t play, Baltimore would likely turn to fourth-string left tackle Daniel Faalele to line up against Miller, an eight-time Pro Bowl pass-rusher who has two sacks in the first three games this season.
Stanley and Ravens officials have stressed patience in his return. After originally breaking his left ankle in October 2020, Stanley rushed back to play in the 2021 season opener, when it was apparent that he wasn’t close to full strength. Baltimore placed him on injured reserve soon after, and Stanley missed the final 16 games of the 2021 season.
“I feel way better than what I was when I played that first game last year,” Stanley said. “I’m in a way better place. I’m very optimistic, very confident about me getting back to where I want to be.”
Although Stanley would not disclose how many surgeries he has had on his left ankle, he did reveal for the first time that he had another “major surgery” on his lower body.
“I think that’s why the whole organization was taking this approach to make sure I can be out there and not play one game and be out for the rest of the season,” Stanley said.
Without Stanley, the Ravens have gone through three left tackles in the first three games. Ja’Wuan James started the season opener before tearing his Achilles, and Patrick Mekari started the next two games before spraining his left ankle. That forced Faalele to play left tackle, a position he hadn’t played in college, for the final three quarters of Sunday’s 37-26 win in New England.
Now, Baltimore could be getting back Stanley, the No. 6 overall pick of the 2016 draft. As Stanley began to talk to reporters in the locker room, teammates began loudly chanting “Ronnie.”
“Ronnie is looking good,” Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. “I really think he has made some great strides. He looks explosive. Everyone is joking with him that he’s got fresh legs. He’s as good as I’ve seen him look.”
In 2019, Stanley excelled in protecting Jackson, allowing the fewest pressures (six) by an offensive tackle in 14 years, according to Pro Football Focus. Then, in 2020, he was carted off the field two days after he signed a five-year, $98.75 million extension.
Stanley, the NFL’s fourth highest-paid left tackle at $19.75 million per season, believes he can return to his All-Pro form.
“I am confident that I’m going to be the Ronnie Stanley that I can be. I still don’t feel like I have played up to my full potential. For me, that’s where I’m pushing towards and what I expect out of my body. I’m pretty happy with what I’m seeing and where I am right now. I’m in a really good place.”