Stanley starts, veterans sit in Ravens preseason opener

August 11, 2016 | Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — After being labeled a game-time decision to play earlier in the week, Ravens rookie left tackle Ronnie Stanley made his NFL preseason debut against Carolina on Thursday night.

The sixth overall pick of April’s draft held up well in his first live-game action, steering Panthers defensive end Kony Ealy wide of the pocket on his very first pass-blocking opportunity in the first quarter and making the key block on an 8-yard run by Terrance West on the following drive.

The Notre Dame produce was replaced by fellow rookie Alex Lewis in the second quarter, but it was an encouraging debut for Stanley, who left Saturday’s stadium workout with a “soft tissue” injury and did not practice on Monday. Head coach John Harbaugh was noncommittal about Stanley’s status on Tuesday after he returned to the field to participate in a walk-through practice open to media.

“He said it all along that he was going to play,” Harbaugh said. “I asked him before the game, ‘Are you going?’ He looked at me like, ‘Are you crazy? Of course I’m going.’ That’s a good sign for him as well.”

While Stanley got his feet wet at the NFL level, the Ravens rested a number of healthy veterans with Joe Flacco headlining the list. Harbaugh had strongly hinted earlier in the week that the veteran quarterback would not play in the preseason opener even though he hadn’t missed a single rep in practice over the first two weeks of training camp.

It remains to be seen whether Flacco will see the field next week at Indianapolis.

“I just didn’t feel like there was any reason to go with Joe tonight,” Harbaugh said. “In the big picture, I don’t think that’s hard to understand. It makes sense I think. He’ll go maybe next week. Maybe he’ll go the third game; we haven’t decided that yet. When Joe didn’t go, there’s not a lot of reason to play some of those other guys.”

Other healthy veterans receiving the night off included receivers Kamar Aiken and Mike Wallace, running back Justin Forsett, tight end Benjamin Watson, right guard Marshal Yanda, and defensive tackles Brandon Williams and Timmy Jernigan.

Williams revealed on Twitter before the game that his wife had given birth to their son, further explaining his absence on Thursday night.

Injured players who did not suit up on Thursday included wide receivers Steve Smith (Achilles), Breshad Perriman (knee), Michael Campanaro (strains), Chris Moore (foot), and Chris Matthews (undisclosed), running back Lorenzo Taliaferro (foot), tight ends Crockett Gillmore (hamstring) and Dennis Pitta (finger), cornerback Maurice Canady (undisclosed), linebackers Terrell Suggs (Achilles) and Elvis Dumervil (foot), and defensive end Bronson Kaufusi (ankle).

After missing practice earlier in the week with an undisclosed injury, second-year tight end Maxx Williams played against the Panthers and caught two passes for 15 yards in the first half.