Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Ravens urged to sign former 1st overall to cover for injuries

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The 2022 NFL season is only a game old for the Baltimore Ravens, but familiar issues are already surfacing. In particular, injuries at key positions.

Head coach John Harbaugh is still waiting for running backs JK Dobbins and Gus Edwards to fully recover, while defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald has a cornerback shortage. Those things are nothing compared to the problems along an offensive line decimated at tackle positions.

Ja’Wuan James is done for the season while Ronnie Stanley continues to battle the ankle problems that have kept the All-Pro on the shelf for most of the past two years. The Ravens need some security up front, especially on the left tackle spot where Lamar Jackson’s blindside protector does its job.

Help could come from the free-agency market, with one NFL writer recommending a former first-overall draft pick.

Eric Fisher is still available, a somewhat surprising fact considering he was the first player to be inducted back in 2013. He played eight seasons for the Kansas City Chiefs before spending 2021 with the Indianapolis Colts, winning two Pro Bowl berths and a Super Bowl title in the process.

Fisher is 31, but Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballentine believes the Central Michigan ex-star is an upgrade of the Ravens’ current ability to replace injured veterans: “The former No. 1 started in 15 games for the Indianapolis last season Colts and while giving up seven sacks, he posted a 68.2 grade from PFF. Patrick Mekari scored 60.3 in his 32 snaps last week.”

It’s a reasonable suggestion, especially since Fisher could play both tackle spots, having operated on the right and left at different times during his pro career. The Ravens need that level of versatility after James tore his Achilles tendon against the New York Jets in Week 1.

James, a 2014 Miami Dolphins first-round pick, played in place of Stanley. The latter has missed 28 out of 29 games since signing a contract extension in 2020.

Stanley was at least one participant in practice on Friday, September 16th ESPN’s Jamison Hensley:

Unfortunately, the same source also described Stanley as “doubtful‘ for the week two game against the Dolphins. His absence would only increase the challenge for an O-line set to deal with a loaded Miami pass rush featuring Emmanuel Ogbah, Melvin Ingram, Trey Flowers and Christian Wilkins.

The Ravens can’t let their injury situation in tackle go for long. Nor would it be wise to place too many hopes on Stanley, who has had a hard time escaping his injury streak.

A smarter move would be to look for a tried and true commodity like Fisher, who still wants to play but has been waiting aloud for the right situation ESPN’s Ed Werder:

Without turning to Fisher, the Ravens will struggle to find established, reliable linemen to fill the gaps. Especially one who could help as much as Fisher could at one stage in his offense.

The Fisher name stands out slightly among the rest of the offensive tackles still on the market. Names like Bryan Bulaga, Nate Solder and Bobby Massie are also on the list, according to Spotrac.com.

There’s no better scheme to fit into the Ravens’ group than Fisher. In particular, his ability to clear lanes in mid-game.

Concerns are already growing over Baltimore’s ground attack after a lukewarm performance against the Jets. The magnitude of these concerns was explained by Jeff Zrebiec of the athlete: “I don’t think the Ravens will average three yards per carry all year long, but I just don’t see the elements of a top-five running game. The offensive line doesn’t get people off the ball consistently enough, and their current running backs are a little lacking in juice.”

Gaining just 63 yards from 21 attempts was hardly a fitting way for an offensive Greg Roman to start the season. Fisher’s signing would at least help the front five keep the more consistent people off the ball after he started 15 games for the Colts last year and paved the way for Jonathan Taylor to lead the NFL’s rushing charts with 1,811 rushing yards.

Fisher made a series of key blocks from the left tackle position, below This one here vs the Houston Texans, highlighted by KC:

The Ravens need that level of physicality at both ends of the line, while the signing of Fisher would also provide excellent insurance against further injury and stretching too thin at one of the key positions in the roster.

Concerns are already growing over Baltimore’s ground attack after a lukewarm performance against the Jets. The magnitude of these concerns was explained by Jeff Zrebiec of the athlete: “I don’t think the Ravens will average three yards per carry all year long, but I just don’t see the elements of a top-five running game. The offensive line doesn’t get people off the ball consistently enough, and their current running backs are a little lacking in juice.”



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