OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens never imagined having a depleted secondary ahead of their Week 2 meeting with high-octane Kansas City, but the 2021 season has had other plans.
Having already lost three-time Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Peters for the season just days before the opener, Baltimore will reportedly be without young cornerback Chris Westry for multiple weeks. According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, the 6-foot-4 defensive back sustained a lateral meniscus tear in his knee, which explains his absence from practice this week. It’s unclear when Westry was injured since he was on the field for the game-ending touchdown in the season-opening overtime loss at Las Vegas on Monday night, but he landed awkwardly on Bryan Edwards’ 32-yard reception in overtime that was initially ruled a touchdown before being overturned.
Westry played 33 defensive snaps against the Raiders, which allowed defensive coordinator Wink Martindale to move around top cornerback Marlon Humphrey in difference sub packages. That secondary shuffling came at the expense of slot cornerback Tavon Young, who played just 24 snaps and committed two pass interference penalties in his first regular-season action since last September’s ACL injury. The potential return of 33-year-old cornerback Jimmy Smith this week could quell concerns about losing Westry and forcing Young into more extensive action.
“I think it’s still the process of him coming back from the injuries,” said defensive coordinator Wink Martindale about Young’s modest snap count. “You don’t want to just rush him out there and play 90 plays or 55 plays or 60 plays, so we have a gauge on him. … We’ll just see where he’s at with it, and we have a plan. As you saw on Monday night, we have a plan for putting different guys in there.”
In addition to Westry, the Ravens were missing wide receiver Marquise Brown (ankle), defensive end Derek Wolfe (back/hip), and left tackle Ronnie Stanley (ankle) from Thursday’s practice. Wolfe is expected to miss his second straight game, but Brown’s Friday practice status should offer a better idea about his health entering Week 2. Stanley’s status has become a concern as the Ravens try to avoid their first 0-2 start in six years.
Return specialist and wide receiver Devin Duvernay was added to Thursday’s injury report as a limited participant due to a groin issue, which will be something else to monitor.
The Ravens officially promoted veteran running back Devonta Freeman from the practice squad to the 53-man roster on Thursday. His elevation further clouds the current running back picture after Week 1 starter Ty’Son Williams received only three touches in the second half of the loss to the Raiders and veteran Latavius Murray took on a larger role as the game progressed. Le’Veon Bell remains on the practice squad for now.
“We really just kind of rotated guys; the game played out the way it did,” said offensive coordinator Greg Roman about the Ravens leaning more on Murray than Williams in the second half. “But we’re not going to put one back in there and have him play the whole game. Those days are over really. We’re going to rotate guys in and out and try to keep them as fresh as we can.”
The Ravens protected Bell, quarterback Trace McSorley, offensive tackle Andre Smith, and inside linebacker Josh Bynes on their practice squad this week.
In contrast to Baltimore’s ongoing nightmare on the injury front, the Chiefs saw their entire 53-man roster practice fully on Thursday.
Below is Thursday’s full injury report:
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: WR Marquise Brown (ankle), OT Ronnie Stanley (ankle), CB Chris Westry (knee), DE Derek Wolfe (back/hip)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: WR Devin Duvernay (groin), OLB Daelin Hayes (knee), CB Marlon Humphrey (back), CB Jimmy Smith (ankle)
FULL PARTICIPATION: OL Austin Blythe (abdomen), DE Frank Clark (hamstring), DE Mike Danna (groin), RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (ankle), WR Tyreek Hill (toe), DT Derrick Nnadi (hip), DT Khalen Saunders (glute)