Stan­ley’s foot in­jury re­mains a mys­tery

Rookie LT sat out Sun­day after prac­tic­ing; J. Smith bounces back from con­cus­sion again

Baltimore Sun - - RAVENS & NFL - By Ed­ward Lee ed­ward.lee@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/Ed­wardLeeSun

Although he is a rookie, left tackle Ron­nie Stan­ley has demon­strated a deft touch at avoid­ing an­swer­ing ques­tions about the foot in­jury that has side­lined him for the Ravens’ past four games and about a timetable for his re­turn.

Coach John Har­baugh also isn’t di­vulging much about the health of the sixth over­all pick in the NFL draft.

Asked if Stan­ley suf­fered a set­back after fully prac­tic­ing three times last week or if Stan­ley sim­ply is not ready to re­turn to the start­ing lineup, Har­baugh said, “The lat­ter.”

“I haven’t viewed him as any­thing,” he said. “I just go with what the train­ers and doc­tors tell me.”

Stan­ley’s ab­sence has co­in­cided with the team’s four-game los­ing streak. More im­por­tantly, his in­abil­ity to re­turn to the field has been puz­zling be­cause he has been prac­tic­ing and walk­ing around the train­ing fa­cil­ity in Owings Mills with­out any hes­i­ta­tion or limp.

Stan­ley’s void has been filled by fel­low rookie Alex Lewis, who has started at left tackle in each of the past three games. The fourthround pick is tied with quar­ter­back Joe Flacco and cor­ner­back Jimmy Smith for the team lead in penal­ties with four — in­clud­ing a hold­ing in­frac­tion that negated a 52-yard run by run­ning back Ter­rance West (Tow­son Univer­sity, North­west­ern High) in the sec­ond quar­ter of Sun­day’s 24-16 loss to the New York Jets at MetLife Sta­dium in East Ruther­ford, N.J.

But Har­baugh said he has been im­pressed with Lewis’ play after mov­ing from left guard, where he started the first three games.

“Look at Alex Lewis’ sit­u­a­tion. I’m go­ing to say, ‘OK, in the big pic­ture of a left tackle in the Na­tional Foot­ball League, he’s played OK,’ ” Har­baugh said. “Now for a rookie who we drafted to play guard, who was play­ing pretty darn good at guard, just to bump out there and play left tackle — the tough­est spot — and do OK, I think it’s a tremen­dous credit to him.” J. Smith knew he would play: De­spite be­ing limited in prac­tice last week be­cause of a con­cus­sion, Smith made his cus­tom­ary start at cor­ner­back Sun­day. Although he was listed as ques­tion­able, Smith did not have any doubts he would start.

“It was sim­ple,” he said. “You get banged up all the time, and you just keep on go­ing.”

Smith’s quick re­cov­ery from a con­cus­sion sus­tained in the team’s loss to the NewYork Gi­ants on Oct. 16 should not be too sur­pris­ing. He bounced back in sim­i­lar fash­ion after bang­ing hel­mets with Pitts­burgh Steel­ers run­ning back Le’Veon Bell in a Thurs­day night game in 2013, and started the fol­low­ing week.

Smith’s re­turn Sun­day was a boon to a de­fense that had sur­ren­dered 211 yards and two touch­downs to Gi­ants wide re­ceiver Odell Beck­hamJr. after Smith left in the sec­ond quar­ter. Smith was matched up pri­mar­ily against Jets wide re­ceiver Bran­don Mar­shall, who caught only three passes for 39 yards de­spite be­ing tar­geted a team-high eight times. Suggs cleared in le­gal case: The crim­i­nal charges stem­ming from line­backer Ter­rell Suggs’ ar­rest in March in Ari­zona for driv­ing on a sus­pended li­cense were dis­missed Mon­day. Suggs will also be cleared of a civil in­frac­tion when he com­pletes a de­fen­sive driv­ing course, his at­tor­ney Craig Pen­rod said. The civil sit­u­a­tion is a result of his car scrap­ing the wall dur­ing his one-car ac­ci­dent in Scotts­dale.

Suggs was ar­rested March 4 and ini­tially charged with driv­ing on a sus­pended li­cense, leav­ing the scene of an ac­ci­dent and fail­ing to no­tify after strik­ing a fix­ture after his BMW col­lided with the me­dian. An in­ves­ti­ga­tion by po­lice showed no ev­i­dence that the long­est-tenured Raven was im­paired and he told of­fi­cers that he “pos­si­bly fell asleep” be­hind the wheel. B. Wil­liams joins block party: The Ravens reg­is­tered their 11th blocked kick since 2014 — an NFL high — when nose tackle Bran­don Alex Lewis, left, has started at left tackle in each of the past three games, re­plac­ing in­jured fel­low rookie Ron­nie Stan­ley, right. Wil­liams knocked down Jets kicker Nick Folk’s 51-yard field­goal at­tempt with 3:04 left in the fourth quar­ter.

“I was just [an­gry] and wanted to block the field goal,” Wil­liams said of his play, which kept the Ravens within a touch­down and a 2-point con­ver­sion of ty­ing the score. “Usu­ally, L.G. [de­fen­sive end Lawrence Guy] lines up at the nose, and he switched over. I guess, some­thing he game-planned or thought up in his head, which was great. I just ran through, hit the guard and threw my hands up and blocked it.” End zone: De­spite two lost fum­bles this sea­son and two fum­bles Sun­day that the Ravens re­tained, Devin Hester Sr. will re­main the team’s re­turn spe­cial­ist. Har­baugh said he still has faith in Hester, who ranks third in the NFL with a 28.8-yard kick re­turn av­er­age de­spite a thigh prob­lem that forced him to sit out a against the Gi­ants. “I’m still very con­fi­dent Devin can se­cure the foot­ball,” Har­baugh said. “I like the fact that Devin can still break a big re­turn. … Tight end Daniel Brown, who the Ravens waived Satur­day, was claimed off waivers Mon­day by the Chicago Bears. The Ravens had hoped to re-sign Brown to their prac­tice squad. … Jets quar­ter­back Geno Smith, who was knocked out of Sun­day’s game in the sec­ond quar­ter after getting sacked by rookie out­side line­backer Matthew Judon, re­port­edly tore the ACL in his right knee and is seek­ing a sec­ond opin­ion. … For­mer Raven Ray Lewis will be one of four cap­tains at the Pro Bowl, which will re­turn to the AFC vs. NFC for­mat. Each con­fer­ence will be led by an of­fen­sive and de­fen­sive cap­tain, who will be on the side­line to men­tor the play­ers. Lewis will be joined by for­mer Pitts­burgh Steeler Jerome Bet­tis. For­mer Kansas City Chief/At­lanta Fal­con Tony Gon­za­lez and for­mer Oak­land Raider/Green Bay Packer Charles Wood­son will cap­tain the NFC.

KEN­NETH K. LAM/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

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