Wolfe out, J. Smith questionable for Ravens’ 2021 opener on Monday night


(Updated: Sunday 9 p.m.)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens will be without starting defensive lineman Derek Wolfe for Monday’s season opener in Las Vegas.

The 31-year-old was ruled out Saturday and has been sidelined with a back and hip issue since Aug. 23. Head coach John Harbaugh didn’t provide a particularly optimistic outlook for his availability against the Raiders when asked how Wolfe was progressing earlier this week.

“It’s kind of a lingering-type deal,” Harbaugh said. “Hopefully, he’ll be back soon.”

Cornerback Jimmy Smith was officially listed as questionable after returning to the practice field Wednesday for the first time since injuring his right ankle on Aug. 6. A fully healthy Smith would be helpful in trying to slow 2020 Pro Bowl tight end Darren Waller on Monday night, but the 33-year-old logging just a few limited practices doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence that he’s ready for regular-season action after missing most of the preseason.

Rookie outside linebacker Daelin Hayes (knee) was also designated as questionable, but the fifth-round pick from Notre Dame was a full participant in Saturday’s practice and appears to be ready after missing a single practice on Wednesday.

Of course, the official Week 1 injury report doesn’t come close to painting the full picture of the injury-ravaged Ravens, who have lost four notable players — three-time Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Peters (knee), running backs J.K. Dobbins (knee) and Gus Edwards (knee), and inside linebacker L.J. Fort (knee) — to season-ending injuries over the last three weeks. The injured reserve list also includes top blocking tight end Nick Boyle (knee), 2021 first-round wide receiver Rashod Bateman (groin), and 2019 third-round wide receiver Miles Boykin (hamstring), but those three could return as soon as Week 4.

You won’t find an NFL position group more decimated by injury than Baltimore’s running backs as 2019 fourth-round pick Justice Hill (Achilles tendon) was also lost for the season earlier this month. That’s made for a hectic week for offensive coordinator Greg Roman trying to acclimate veteran newcomers Latavius Murray, Trenton Cannon, Devonta Freeman, and Le’Veon Bell as quickly as possible to back up Week 1 starter and 2020 undrafted free agent Ty’Son Williams, who will be making his NFL debut Monday after spending his rookie year on the Baltimore practice squad.

“When something like that happens, you really just have to get into sprint mode — get them as much of a foundation as you can and kind of coach as you go,” said Roman, who acknowledged the additional challenge of backs needing to build chemistry with Lamar Jackson on the frequent mesh exchanges in this rushing attack. “We kind of call it ‘country coaching.’ You’re coaching them in the hallway, in the cafeteria, everywhere.

“It’s a sprint, and I’m really impressed with how these guys are attacking it. These guys are really good players.”

Who exactly will be playing behind Williams remains to be seen, but Murray and Cannon are already on the active roster while Freeman and Bell are currently on the practice squad. As of Saturday evening, the Ravens still had two open spots on their 53-man roster. They may also elevate up to two players from the practice squad for each game, giving Harbaugh and his staff plenty of potential roster flexibility for Week 1. Any of those potential moves must be made by 4 p.m. Monday for players to be eligible to play against the Raiders.

The Raiders will be without starting left guard Richie Incognito, who missed the entire practice week with a calf injury.

Updated: On Sunday evening, Las Vegas downgraded starting running back Josh Jacobs to questionable due to an illness.

Below is the final injury report for Week 1:

OUT: DE Derek Wolfe (back/hip)
QUESTIONABLE: OLB Daelin Hayes (knee), CB Jimmy Smith (ankle)

OUT: G Richie Incognito (calf)
DOUBTFUL: S Roderic Teamer (shoulder/ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: RB Josh Jacobs (illness)