Ravens try to overcome injuries, avoid repeat of last season
OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) The Baltimore Ravens received a bad omen last week when starting left tackle Ronnie Stanley was forced to wear a walking boot because of a foot injury.
Stanley was later ruled out of Week 4 against Oakland and his absence disrupted the offensive line, which committed five holding penalties and allowed two sacks.
Another missed block led to a costly fumble by quarterback Joe Flacco in the 28-27 loss on Sunday.
While Baltimore is 3-1, coach John Harbaugh does not want a repeat of last season when injuries and uneven performances played a key role in the team's disappointing third-place finish.
The Ravens will look to make some strides heading into this week's game against the Washington Redskins.
''The first thing is you don't have self-inflicted wounds. That's the number one thing: the penalties,'' Harbaugh said.
''We had five holding penalties. Two of which I can coach off of, three of which there's nothing I can really say to the guys about. It doesn't matter. They are holding penalties and now you're second-and-20 or whatever. That's where it starts.
''We overcame it once or twice. You can't overcome it five times. We don't want to have to overcome it any time.''
One of the objectives for the Ravens this week will be getting Stanley healthy and ready to play against Washington. Baltimore drafted Stanley in the first round to be the long-term solution at left tackle.
Last season, starting left tackle Eugene Monroe appeared in just six games before being placed on IR with a shoulder injury.
As the Ravens struggled with protection, Flacco suffered a season-ending knee injury Nov. 22 against the Rams. Baltimore finished 5-11 and missed the playoffs.
Monroe was eventually released in June after Baltimore drafted Stanley.
When Stanley was ruled out against Oakland, James Hurst got the start and was flagged twice for holding, with one of those penalties declined. Hurst also had matchup problems with Raiders star Khalil Mack, who finished with four tackles, including a sack and had four hits on Flacco.
When asked whether he would be available Sunday against the Redskins, Stanley said, ''We'll see what coach Harbaugh wants me to do. He's the coach and I'm going to do what he tells me.''
Rookie starting left guard Alex Lewis, a fourth-round pick from Nebraska, also did not play against Oakland despite being cleared from the concussion protocol Friday. Ryan Jensen got the start and he committed two costly holding penalties. Lewis is expected to play this week.
Overall, Baltimore committed 10 penalties, including five on the offensive line, for 105 yards.
Despite those numbers, Flacco said after the game that the entire offense was accountable for the team's struggles.
Entering Monday, Baltimore was tied with New England for 17th in total offense with 1,385 yards (346.4 per game).
Harbaugh remains confident the Ravens are close to putting everything together and will become a dominant offense. He hopes that can happen this week against Washington.
''We are playing really hard, really physical, fast football,'' Harbaugh said. ''We are capable of being an excellent offense. We are going to get there. So, our guys are capable of doing it.
''We're going to keep pushing them and prodding them. We're going to keep encouraging them to get to the point we translate plays and yards into points. That's what we need to do.''
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