Ravens roster move roundup ahead of Cowboys game

The Baltimore Ravens will have several players back on the practice field ahead of their Week 13 matchup with the Dallas Cowboys on Tuesday night in primetime as they appear to finally getting healthy for a crucial final stretch run where they might need to win out to punch their ticket to the postseason.

While their best and most valuable player, quarterback Lamar Jackson, remains on the COVID-19 List for the time being as he completes his mandatory 10-day quarantine following his positive test, the Ravens got a heap of players back that they have been sorely missing due to injuries and their outbreak.

Here is a breakdown of all the transactions and other roster related moves that transpired on Friday:

CB Anthony Averett and WR Chris Moore activated off IR

Baltimore Ravens cornerback Anthony Averett (23) warms up before an NFL football game against the Houston Texans, Sunday, Sept.20, 2020, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

The third-year cornerback and the veteran wide receiver and special teams ace were activated from the injured reserve designated to return list. Both players returned to practice on Friday and while neither has been activated to the 53-man roster yet, either or both could play this week.

Averett suffered a slight fracture in his clavicle/shoulder in Week Six against the Philidelphia Eagles and was placed on short-term IR on Oct.22.

With the Ravens defensive backs continuing to get banged up and drop like flies, his return will be a welcomed presence this week against a loaded Cowboys receiving core and will allow All-Pro Marlon Humphrey to play less in the slot and more on the outside where he is most comfortable and is at his best.

Moore is one of the best special teams players in the league and has been on IR with a thigh injury since Nov.7 and has only played in one game this season after suffering and recovering from a broken finger in training camp.

TE Luke Willson signed to the active roster

The veteran tight end was officially signed to the active roster on Friday after being called up from the practice squad in each of the last two games. He originally signed with the team on Nov.17 and while he’s only been targeted twice, he has been a strong blocker in the run game.

Willson joins Pro Bowler Mark Andrews as the only two true tight ends on the active roster after losing blocking specialist Nick Boyle for the season late in the team’s Week 10 loss to the New England Patriots.

Three players signed to the practice squad

The Ravens had to call up the vast majority of their practice squad just to field a full game-day roster on Wednesday and on Friday they added three more players to it following some roster shuffling.

Baltimore signed veteran running back Tommy Bohanon, veteran offensive guard Parker Ehinger second-year defensive tackle Braxton Hoyett. While Bohanon is listed at running back on the team website, he’s played fullback his entire career and certainly looks the part at 6-foot-1 and 246 pounds.

The Ravens were without Pro Bowl fullback Patrick Ricard against the Steelers because he was on the Reserve/COVID-19 List and had to use the tight ends they promoted from the practice squad to offset his absence as a run blocker.

With Bohanon on board, Baltimore can now call him up to fill the void at fullback if Ricard can’t play this week or misses time at another point down the road.

Four players activated from Reserve/COVID-19 List

Speaking of the Reserve/COVID-19 list, the Ravens activated four key players off of it on Friday and all four were on the practice field for the first time in nearly two weeks.

The list of returnees consists of rookie running back J.K. Dobbins, veteran outside linebacker Pernell McPhee, and offensive linemen Patrick Mekari and Matt Skura.

Dobbins has been the Ravens most consistently explosive offensive skill player behind Jackson and appeared to have seized the reigns as the featured back against the Tennessee Titans in Week 11 when he rushed for 70 yards on 15 carries and added 15 yards on two receptions.

The second-round pick out of Ohio State had the best game of his rookie season against the Steelers in Week Eight with a career-high 113 yards on 15 carries and leads all of Baltimore’s backs in yards per carry with an average of 5.3 a clip.

McPhee is the elder statesmen of the edge defenders and possesses the versatility rush from inside as well. He’s having another productive season with two sacks and 11 quarterback hits in eight starts.

The 10-year veteran is also a tremendous run defender and excels at setting the edge against stretch, zone, and off-tackle running plays to the perimeter.

Mekari took over for Skura as the starting center against the Titans and can play any position on the offensive line. He has played at right guard and right tackle at times this year which makes him a tremendous asset and indispensable piece to the blocking unit that has been in flux for most of the season.

Skura was the starting center for the first nine games of the season, made a remarkable recovery from major offseason knee surgery, and can play and has played multiple positions along the interior of the offensive line.

With both players out last week, the Ravens turned to undrafted rookie Trystan Colon-Castillo who played well in his first career start at center against the Steelers.

While the rookie was able to hold his own against one of the fiercest fronts, having Skura and Mekari back in the lineup will give them a major boost in both run and pass blocking with their skill, experience, and positional versatility.

The Ravens now have 13 players remaining on the Reserve/COVID-19 list.

Two players placed on IR

Veteran quarterback Robert Griffin III nearly led the Ravens to a stunning upset win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Wednesday before a pulled hamstring ended his night prematurely.

On Friday he was placed injured reserve, leaving second-year pro Trace McSorley as the only signal-caller currently on the active roster.

The Ravens placed fourth-year tight end, Sean Culkin, on practice squad injured reserve. He was called up for his first game as a Raven on Wednesday and even though he wasn’t targeted in the passing game, he was involved on offense as a run blocker.

Brandon Williams returns to practice

While this may be a prime example of burying the lede, I opted to save the best bit of news for last because the veteran nose tackle’s return to the practice field is the first step towards making his long-awaited return to the field against Dallas this week.

Williams has been sidelined for the Ravens’ last two games after suffering an ankle injury early in the Patriots game. He is the anchor in the middle of the defense that clogs up rushing lanes and gobbles up multiple blockers.

The Ravens have struggled mightily to stop the run and have yielded far more yards on the ground to opposing teams whenever Williams has had to miss time but have been dominant against the run with him in the lineup.

Without the Pro Bowler against the Patriots and Titans, the Ravens allowed 173 yards in back to back games. Even though the Cowboy’s offensive line is depleted, running back Ezekiel Elliott is still a force to be reckoned with.

The three-time Pro Bowler ranks eighth in the league in rushing so Baltimore can’t afford to be shorthanded in the trenches because Elliott does most of his damage between the tackles just like Damien Harris and Derrick Henry did in Weeks 10 and 11.

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  1. December 5, 2020

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