OWINGS MILLS, Md. — All week, the Baltimore Ravens talked about how it will be “next man up” for Sunday’s game at the Cincinnati Bengals. To be accurate, it’s going to be next men up for the injury-decimated Ravens.
On Friday, the Ravens revealed how short-handed they will be against the two-time defending AFC North champion Bengals, ruling out four starters: offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley (knee), center Tyler Linderbaum (ankle), cornerback Marlon Humphrey (foot) and safety Marcus Williams (pectoral). All but Humphrey were injured in a costly season-opening, 25-9 win over the Houston Texans.
Along with running back J.K. Dobbins, who tore an Achilles tendon against the Texans, these five players account for 21.4% of Baltimore’s salary cap in 2023.
“It’s no excuses,” Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson said earlier this week. “It’s tough just because they’re key players, but we have guys that are going to step up and lead us out there on that field and do what they’re supposed to do.”
The good news for Baltimore is that Pro Bowl tight end Mark Andrews was a full participant in Friday’s practice, which means he is trending toward playing after missing the season opener with a quadriceps injury. The bad news is it’s uncertain when any of these other injured players will be back.
Dobbins, who had surgery Friday, is out for the season. Stanley and Linderbaum could miss multiple weeks, and Williams is expected to be out for an extended period. Humphrey is considered the player who is the closest to return.
This continues a streak of injury issues for the Ravens when they face the Bengals. Jackson has been injured for the team’s past three trips to Cincinnati, all losses. Now, with Jackson healthy, Baltimore will be without half of its starting secondary against quarterback Joe Burrow and won’t have two starters on the offensive line.
“Everybody has each other’s backs, and we know that if one goes down, the next man has got to fill the void,” Ravens wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. said. “It’s just a mentality thing that I think the very good teams have, and I know we have that here.”
Patrick Mekari is expected to fill in for Stanley at left tackle, and Sam Mustipher is likely to step in for Linderbaum at center. Geno Stone will probably take over Williams’ spot at free safety.
“Our players are confident in their teammates, their brothers-in-arms,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “They believe in one another, and they’re excited to see those guys play. I see why it’s a topic, but it’s not really a topic in our inner circle. We’re just going to play the game.”
With Dobbins done for the season, it’s been speculated that Baltimore will split the backfield carries between Gus Edwards and Justice Hill.
Asked which Ravens running back he would start on his fantasy team, Harbaugh smiled and said: “I’m sorry, I don’t have the fantasy answer. I apologize for that.”