There aren’t too many positive takeaways from the Ravens’ 28-24 loss to the archrival Pittsburgh Steelers, especially given All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley’s season-ending left ankle injury, but former Chargers team doctor Dr. David Chao believes Stanley will be back for Week 1 of the 2021 season.
Stanley was carted off the field during the first quarter of the game after Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt inadvertently collided with him from behind. The Ravens’ left tackle is one of the team’s best players, and the Ravens will certainly feel the impact of not having him for the remainder of the season.
Chao compared Stanley’s injury to Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott’s ankle injury suffered in Week 5.
“It’s an ankle fracture dislocation and in some ways similar to what Dak Prescott experienced, but perhaps not as severe in that I don’t believe it broke through the skin inside and out,” said Chao on Glenn Clark Radio Nov. 2. “… Undoubtedly there is ligament damage.”
Stanley was a big contributor to the Ravens’ offensive line and has the numbers to back it up. He was drafted by Baltimore in the first round (No. 6 overall) out of Notre Dame in 2016 and immediately took over the starting left tackle. Stanley was selected to the Pro Bowl and was named first-team All-Pro in 2019.
Although Stanley won’t play another snap this season, Chao thinks he will be good to go for the start of the 2021 season. On Oct. 30, Stanley signed a five-year extension worth nearly $100 million. The left tackle is set to earn $47.116 million before the start of next season.
“The good news is, feeling for him, he got his record breaking contract done, he got the security that he needed,” said Chao, whose work can be found on profootballdoc.com and Outkick. “And the team will be OK, too. Look, in 2021, he will be back Week 1 2021 and can return to his usual All-Pro top form.”
In addition to Stanley’s injury, Ravens right guard Tyre Phillips was pulled from the game with a less severe ankle injury, which left Baltimore down two starting offensive lineman. Phillips was placed on injured reserve Nov. 3 with a high ankle sprain, meaning he’ll miss at least three weeks.
“[It was] somewhat similar to Ronnie Stanley. You’re engaged in a block and stuff comes, the trash comes at your feet,” Chao said. “And instead of the left ankle in a severe trap nature like Ronnie Stanley, this was the right side. And when this happens you can get a right knee MCL mild sprain but also a high ankle sprain, and that’s what I believe this is.”
And to top it all off, the Ravens’ best cornerback, Marlon Humphrey, tested positive for COVID-19, taking away yet another key player for the time being.
Every team in the league is dealing with injury issues, and Chao believes the condensed ramp-up to Week 1, with no preseason, is hurting the athletes now more than ever. Stanley is just one of many players who has gotten hurt so far this year, and while the lack of a preseason isn’t necessarily to blame for these injuries, the trend is hard to ignore.
“There certainly is a significance, a difference. And it’s not just that there weren’t preseason games. There wasn’t an offseason program at all, and it was very limited in terms of the preseason itself. In the first three weeks, [there] wasn’t much of anything,” Chao said. “And so what then does happen is that … soft tissue muscle injuries and other things get pushed into the regular season. We know that they happen in the first six weeks when you restart football.”
For more from Dr. Chao, listen to the full interview here:
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