OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The absences of running back J.K. Dobbins, cornerback Marcus Peters, and left tackle Ronnie Stanley all but derailed the Ravens’ 2021 championship hopes.
That all three are practicing days before the 2022 opener is a major step in the right direction, but their status for Sunday’s meeting with the New York Jets remains to be seen with each officially listed as limited participants on the first injury report of the week.
Having returned to practice on Aug. 15, Peters could have the best chance to play with multiple teammates complimenting how the three-time Pro Bowl selection has looked coming back from last September’s ACL tear. Asked last week about his Week 1 status, the 29-year-old was noncommittal, saying he’ll be back out there “whenever my body tells me [I’m] ready to go.”
“He’s been looking good. He’s actually been looking good from the first day he first did individual,” cornerback Marlon Humphrey said Wednesday. “He actually kind of surprised me. Even the other day he was like, ‘If I look bad, tell me.’ I was like, ‘Bro, I would.’ He looks really good. I’m really excited to be back out there with him.”
Dobbins made his summer practice debut a week before Peters, but his left knee injury consisted of an ACL tear and other ligament damage, which made for a challenging rehab. Though his ramp-up over the last month has been careful, the 23-year-old vowed a couple weeks before the start of training camp to be ready for the season opener.
Head coach John Harbaugh has been complimentary of Dobbins’ progress in recent weeks, but the Ravens signed veteran Kenyan Drake last week, which many interpreted as a sign that Baltimore’s top back may not yet be 100%. Even if Dobbins is active, the Ravens are likely to use a more balanced committee approach that would also feature some combination of Drake, Mike Davis, and Justice Hill.
“I do like what I’ve seen so far. He’s really ascending quickly, especially in the last week, week and a half,” said Harbaugh about Dobbins. “My plan is to decide by the end of the week which backs will be up. Really with J.K., just kind of measure where he’s at in terms of how he’s moving and the same with the other guys. He’s practicing out here, and we’ll see by the end of the week where we’re at.”
For what it’s worth, quarterback Lamar Jackson expressed hope that Dobbins would be “out in a couple weeks” when asked about the third-year running back’s desire to play.
Having just begun practicing Monday afternoon, Stanley appears unlikely to suit up against the Jets after last playing in the 2021 opener that preceded another season-ending surgery on his left ankle last October. Should Stanley not play Sunday, the Ravens would start Ja’Wuan James at left tackle after the 30-year-old veteran practiced at that spot all summer.
“I haven’t had him a whole season and part of the year in 2020, so it will be great having him back,” said Jackson about Stanley. “But we have Ja’Wuan right now, and he’s looking pretty good. But like I said, I’m looking forward to seeing Ronnie back out there.”
Rookie defensive tackle Travis Jones was the only player on Baltimore’s 53-man roster not practicing Wednesday. The talented third-round pick isn’t expected to play after injuring his knee in the fourth quarter of the second preseason game on Aug. 21.
The Ravens signed veteran outside linebacker Kyler Fackrell to their practice squad on Wednesday, giving the defense another potential option at a thin position. Odafe Oweh and Justin Houston are the only outside linebackers currently on the 53-man roster.
Meanwhile, Jets head coach Robert Saleh officially announced former Ravens quarterback and Super Bowl XLVII MVP Joe Flacco would start in place of the injured Zach Wilson on Sunday. The 37-year-old Flacco will be playing the Ravens for the first time after spending the first 11 seasons of his career in Baltimore.
Below is Wednesday’s full injury report:
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: DT Travis Jones (knee)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: RB J.K. Dobbins (knee), CB Marcus Peters (knee), OT Ronnie Stanley (ankle)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: OT Duane Brown (shoulder), QB Zach Wilson (knee)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: OT George Fant (knee), CB Justin Hardee (calf), OT Conor McDermott (ankle), CB D.J. Reed (knee)