BALTIMORE - Rookie left tackle Ronnie Stanley said there was no way he was missing the Ravens’ preseason opener. That’s why John Harbaugh got a funny look from Stanley before Thursday night’s game, when the head coach asked if Stanley felt good enough to play.
“I asked him before the game, ‘Are you going?’’’ Harbaugh said. “He looked at me like, ‘Are you crazy? Of course I’m going.’’’
Anyone who questioned Stanley’s passion for football before the draft should stop worrying. In his brief time with the Ravens, the No. 6 pick overall has already made several things clear. Stanley doesn’t want to miss practice. He doesn’t want to miss games. He doesn’t want to miss anything associated with becoming a premier left tackle in the NFL as quickly as possible.
So despite suffering a minor injury during a recent practice, Stanley was in the starting lineup Thursday night when the Ravens defeated the Panthers, 22-19. Stanley looked solid during his playing time, and the fact he was on the field was another point scored with his coaches and teammates.
The Ravens entered the draft knowing they needed more stability at left tackle. Last year’s starting left tackle Eugene Monroe, who has since retired, missed 17 of a possible 34 starts the past two seasons. The Ravens are hoping Stanley will be healthier and more consistent protecting quarterback Joe Flacco’s blindside, not just this season, but for many seasons to come.
“I really didn’t want anything to stop me from playing (and) definitely wanted to be a part of this,” Stanley said. “I knew this was going to be a big moment in my life, and it was.”
It was only the first preseason game. But for Stanley, the Ravens hoped it was the start of something special.