OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — The Baltimore Ravens are back from their open date — and they were still practicing without Sammy Watkins and Latavius Murray on Wednesday.
It was a reminder that the team's injury issues are too significant to be cured by one week off.
There was some good news for the Ravens. Tight end Nick Boyle and cornerback Chris Westry were at practice. But Watkins and Murray weren't as the team prepared for Sunday's game against Minnesota. The Ravens have overcome their injuries, and they come out of their open date with the lead in the AFC North.
Watkins (thigh) and Murray (ankle) missed practice a couple of days after coach John Harbaugh said they had a chance to return. Offensive lineman Patrick Mekari (ankle) and nose tackle Brandon Williams (shoulder) did not participate either.
“We’re going to add a couple guys with Sammy coming back, and Nick is going to be back at some point. At running back, Latavius will be back,” Harbaugh said Monday. “I’m excited about where our offense could go. I just want to get it there.”
It's not quite there yet, if Wednesday was any indication, and the Ravens have a new health concern this week after linebacker Malik Harrison was struck in the leg by a stray bullet while at a gathering in Cleveland over the weekend.
Harrison went on the reserve/non-football injury list, although Harbaugh maintained Wednesday that he should be able to return.
“It’s a short term, it looks like. ... His guardian angels were looking after him,” Harbaugh said. “We had him in the team meeting on Tuesday, and we all acknowledged that. We’re very thankful for it. It’s as much as it takes time for him to heal up, then he’ll be back.”
Safety DeShon Elliott echoed that optimism.
“Happy he’s safe and back here with us," Elliott said. “He’ll be all right. A couple weeks, he’ll be back.”
Watkins was a significant addition to the Ravens this past offseason, and he has 18 catches for 292 yards in five games. Any chance of Baltimore being at full strength this season disappeared when the Ravens lost running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards before the season, and the receiving group has had availability issues as well. Rashod Bateman recently returned from his own injury problems, but now Watkins has been out.
Boyle (knee) hasn't played yet this season, but he caught 31 passes in 2019, his last full season.
“He brings a lot to the table for us — catching the ball, blocking. He’s doing it all for us,” quarterback Lamar Jackson said. “And he’s got a little funny personality, too, so we missed that too. We’re glad we got him back.”
Boyle, Westry (knee) and defensive end Derek Wolfe (back) have all been designated to return from injured reserve. Aside from that trio, Baltimore still has 13 other players on IR. The Ravens had only 50 players on the active roster Wednesday.
“It will settle into 53 here shortly, because of the guys coming back from injuries,” Harbaugh said.
Harbaugh also said this week that tackle Ja'Wuan James, on the reserve/NFI list following a torn Achilles tendon, could be back before the season is over.
“He would have a chance in December probably, I guess. There’s been no setbacks,” Harbaugh said. “He looks good. I see him walking around. He’s in the meetings. He’s got great spirits. He’s been running straight ahead."
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