Ravens rule out four starters for Week 2 clash with Cincinnati

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — After a costly Week 1 from an injury standpoint, the Ravens ruled out four starters for Sunday’s AFC North clash at Cincinnati.

Left tackle Ronnie Stanley (knee), center Tyler Linderbaum (ankle), free safety Marcus Williams (pectoral), and cornerback Marlon Humphrey (foot) will all be inactive against the Bengals after none of the them practiced all week. Humphrey continues to recover from mid-August surgery while the other three sustained injuries in the season-opening win over Houston last Sunday.

The timing isn’t ideal as the Ravens attempt to snap a three-game losing streak at Paycor Stadium, which includes last January’s wild-card round loss. Star quarterback Lamar Jackson will be healthy and active for a Bengals road game for the first time since the 2020 regular-season finale.

With Patrick Mekari set to start at left tackle in Stanley’s place, the Ravens have needed to put in extra preparation for coverage at the center position this week since the versatile veteran usually serves as either the backup or emergency center on game days. Sam Mustipher is expected to be elevated from the practice squad to start for Linderbaum, but there isn’t another center on the 53-man roster.

Reserve guard Ben Cleveland would be the most logical candidate to fill in as a backup center if the Ravens don’t elevate veteran lineman Kyle Fuller, who was signed to the practice squad earlier this week.

“We had all the different guys taking snaps. We’ve been building that in the last couple weeks especially,” head coach John Harbaugh said Friday. “You always have to be prepared. You have to have depth at center — guys that can snap and get you out of a game. We’ve been working those guys at that, and they move around. It’s good to have versatile players.”

Geno Stone is expected to start in place of Williams, who is out indefinitely as he weighs the possibility of surgery for his pectoral injury sustained in the first half of the 25-9 win over the Texans.

In better news, three-time Pro Bowl tight end Mark Andrews (quadriceps) was upgraded to full participation on Friday after being limited in every other practice over the last two weeks. That appears to bode well for his chances of playing against the Bengals after he sat out Week 1, but Andrews is officially questionable for Sunday’s game and has been dealing with a quad injury since late August.

The Ravens hope to have Andrews’ playmaking ability in the wake of the season-ending Achilles tendon injury to standout running back J.K. Dobbins, who was placed on injured reserve this week. Running backs Justice Hill and Gus Edwards are expected to share the bulk of the backfield work with veteran Melvin Gordon likely to be promoted from the practice squad to serve as the No. 3 option.

“You’re always ready for opportunities, and when the opportunity is here, you have to execute,” Hill said. “I’m excited. I’ve been here for five years now. I’ve been waiting for this opportunity, so I’m going to take full advantage.”

Despite their ugly season-opening loss at Cleveland, the Bengals are in much better shape than Baltimore from a health standpoint with only three players listed as questionable for Sunday — none of them starters.

Below is the final injury report for Week 2:

OUT: CB Marlon Humphrey (foot), C Tyler Linderbaum (ankle), OT Ronnie Stanley (knee), S Marcus Williams (pectoral)
QUESTIONABLE: TE Mark Andrews (quad)

QUESTIONABLE: LB Markus Bailey (knee), RB Chris Evans (hamstring), DE Joseph Ossai (ankle)

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