Stan­ley strug­gles in re­turn after 4-game ab­sence

Fourth blocked kick came after ob­ser­va­tion by Allen

Baltimore Sun - - RAVENS INSIDER - By Ed­ward Lee ed­ward.lee@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/Ed­wardLeeSun Baltimore Sun re­porter Jeff Zre­biec con­trib­uted to this ar­ti­cle.

There won’t be much for Ronnie Stan­ley to re­mem­ber about his re­turn from a four-game ab­sence.

The Ravens rookie left tackle strug­gled in his first game in more than a month. He com­mit­ted a game-high four penal­ties in Sun­day’s 21-14 vic­tory over the Pitts­burgh Steel­ers and al­lowed out­side line­backer James Har­ri­son to sack quar­ter­back Joe Flacco twice in the sec­ond half.

“It was fight out there, and we got the win, and that’s what re­ally mat­ters,” Stan­ley said. “But yeah, I know I can play bet­ter.”

The sixth over­all pick of the 2016 NFL draft had not played since a19-17 win against the Jack­sonville Jaguars on Sept. 25 be­cause of a foot in­jury. The team lost all four games Stan­ley missed, and his re­turn, as well as right guard Mar­shal Yanda’s from a shoul­der in­jury, sug­gested that the of­fen­sive line would be able to open run­ning lanes for run­ning back Ter­rance West (Tow­son Univer­sity, North­west­ern High) and keep Flacco up­right. That didn’t quite hap­pen. Stan­ley’s trou­bles be­gan in the first quar­ter, when he was flagged for il­le­gal use of the hands while try­ing to pre­vent in­side line­backer Ryan Shazier from pres­sur­ing Flacco. In the sec­ond quar­ter, he was caught for hold­ing twice.

In the third quar­ter, Stan­ley was cited for hold­ing for the third time on the of­fense’s first play. Then Har­ri­son beat Stan­ley to sack Flacco, although that was as much on Flacco for hold­ing onto the ball too long. Later in the quar­ter, Har­ri­son ran wide past Stan­ley and stripped Flacco of the ball as he reared back. Yanda re­cov­ered the fum­ble to pre­vent fur­ther dam­age.

Coach John Har­baugh chalked up Stan­ley’s mis­takes to his re­cent in­ac­tiv­ity.

“He hasn’t played for a long time, and he’s a rookie,” Har­baugh said. “And he’s go­ing against good play­ers. His foot­work is re­ally im­por­tant, and his foot­work wasn’t right like it needed to be, and it got him in some awk­ward po­si­tions, and he grabbed peo­ple. I’ll have to see the tape to see if it was a smart thing to do or not. But he’s ca­pa­ble of play­ing much bet­ter with his feet.” Block party con­tin­ues: The Ravens’ fourth blocked kick of the sea­son and 12th Left tackle Ronnie Stan­ley com­mit­ted a game-high four penal­ties in his re­turn to the line after four games. since 2014 — both of which are NFL highs — was made pos­si­ble be­cause of an ob­ser­va­tion by Buck Allen.

Allen, who was on the left edge of the punt block team, no­ticed that the Steel­ers’ Sean Davis (Mary­land) did not put up much of a fight block­ing and was in­stead in­tent on run­ning down­field. After in­form­ing spe­cial teams co­or­di­na­tor Jerry Ros­burg, Allen raced past Davis and blocked Jor­dan Perry’s 10th punt of the game early in the fourth quar­ter.

Chris Moore scooped up the ball and re­turned it 14 yards to give the Ravens a 19-0 ad­van­tage.

“I just knew that if I got past the slot [guy], I was go­ing to block the ball,” Allen said. “I didn’t care if I hit or touched the ball. It was just a great call. Coach Jerry made a great call at the right mo­ment, and I just ex­e­cuted.”

Har­baugh sin­gled out Allen for his com­mit­ment to spe­cial teams de­spite slid­ing down to fourth on the run­ning back depth chart. “He’s had to work re­ally hard to be­come a spe­cial teams player,” Har­baugh said. “To see him have that kind of im­pact on the game in spe­cial teams speaks vol­umes for who he is and for how im­por­tant it is to com­mit your­self to what­ever way you can con­trib­ute to the foot­ball team.” Smith plays and talks: Mid­way through the first quar­ter, Steve Smith Sr. took a short pass from Flacco and turned it into a 30-yard gain. Although the 37-year-old wide re­ceiver fin­ished with just four catches for 47 yards and took a back seat to team­mate Mike Wal­lace’s 124-yard, one-touch­down show­ing, he ranks sec­ond on the of­fense in yards (357) and third in re­cep­tions (31) and proved that he still can make an im­pact.

“Some­body said some­thing that if our of­fense re­lies on a 37-year old, then we’re in trou­ble,” said Smith, who sat out two games be­cause of an an­kle in­jury. “I guess the dif­fer­ence is, I’m not your av­er­age 37-year old.”

Smith, who said he knew he would play on Wed­nes­day, demon­strated he can still trash-talk, too.

Late in the game, he jawed at Steel­ers rookie cor­ner­back Ar­tie Burns and then safety Mike Mitchell, who is on Smith’s “life­time hit list” for cel­e­brat­ing Smith get­ting speared in the back by Lawrence Tim­mons on Oct. 1, 2015.

“He ain’t on my level,” Smith said of Mitchell. “He never will be. He is not even on the same level as my kids.”

Mitchell feigned ig­no­rance when asked about the ver­bal al­ter­ca­tion. “I’m not quite sure,” he said. “I don’t re­mem­ber any of that.” Flacco thank­ful: While cap­ping off a 14-yard run for a first down on the of­fense’s first se­ries of the third quar­ter, Flacco slid awk­wardly. When he stood up, a brace pro­tect­ing his sur­gi­cally re­paired left knee from last sea­son was man­gled, and Flacco hopped on his right leg to the side­line and the tun­nel lead­ing to the locker room for a new brace.

Af­ter­ward, Flacco was grate­ful that the brace ap­peared to do its job, say­ing, “I could have done some­thing to my MCL. Just chalk it up as lucky that it was just my brace, and that’s it.”

Ryan Mal­lett filled in for Flacco, hand­ing the ball off twice to West and com­plet­ing a 9-yard pass to tight end Dar­ren Waller. But Flacco re­turned to fin­ish 18-of-30 for 241 yards, one touch­down, and one in­ter­cep­tion.

He couldn’t es­cape some teas­ing from his team­mates.

“That was the worst slide known to mankind,” Smith said.

“A few guys thought — I’m not go­ing to say who — that it wasn’t the knee brace that bent, but that it was his leg. But Joe is smooth.” End zone: The Ravens are plan­ning to­day to re-sign wide re­ceiver-kick re­turner Michael Cam­pa­naro, who was waived from the team with an in­jury set­tle­ment on Sept. 13 be­cause of a quadri­ceps prob­lem. The for­mer River Hill stand­out re­habbed the in­jury and feels ready to con­trib­ute to the Ravens, who could use the wide re­ceiver’s route-run­ning abil­ity and his sure hands on of­fense and in the re­turn game. A sev­enth-round pick by the Ravens in 2014, Cam­pa­naro has 12 catches for 137 yards and a touch­down and two rushes for 17 yards and a score while play­ing eight games for the Ravens in parts of two in­jury-plagued sea­sons. … Rookie run­ning back Kenneth Dixon suf­fered a chest con­tu­sion after a 1-yard gain in the fourth quar­ter and did not re­turn to the game. Dixon, who fin­ished with nine car­ries for 13 yards and two catches for zero yards, sat out the first four games of the sea­son to heal a strained MCL in his left knee sus­tained in the team’s third game of the pre­sea­son Aug. 27. … With a 14-yard punt re­turn in the first quar­ter, Devin Hester Sr. passed Dar­rien Gor­don for third place for the most punt-re­turn yards in NFL his­tory. Hester has 3,604 yards. …The Ravens ac­ti­vated strong safety Matt Elam and cor­ner­back Chris LewisHar­ris. The 25-year-old Elam, who un­der­went knee surgery in late Au­gust, was el­e­vated from in­jured re­serve Satur­day. It was his first game since an AFC di­vi­sional play­off loss to the New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots on Jan. 10, 2015. Lewis-Harris, 27, was claimed by the team off waivers after he was re­leased by the Cincin­nati Ben­gals on Thurs­day after spend­ing parts of five sea­sons there. … The team de­ac­ti­vated out­side lineback­ers Elvis Dumervil (foot) and rookie Ka­malei Cor­rea (thigh), guards Ryan Jensen and Vladimir Du­casse, tight end Crock­ett Gill­more (thigh), rookie de­fen­sive tackle Wil­lie Henry, and cor­ner­back Sha­reece Wright (pulled ham­string). … De­fen­sive end Lawrence Guy, out­side line­backer Ter­rell Suggs, Wal­lace, and Yanda rep­re­sented the Ravens for the pre-game coin toss.

KENNETH K. LAM/BALTIMORE SUN

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