After bolstering the Ravens’ right tackle situation last season, Patrick Mekari is expected to do the same at center in 2022.
At Monday’s NFL owners’ gatherings in Palm Beach, Fla., coach John Harbaugh said Mekari will “probably step right in” as a starter. Bradley Bozeman, who emerged as one of the better centers in the NFL last season, left in free hands after signing a one-year contract with the Carolina Panthers.
With few centers available for beginners, Harbaugh said he had “very doubts[s]“that the team can find an upgrade in free agency.
“The draft is obviously an option,” Harbaugh said. “But we now have great options right in our dressing room. And Pat Mekari, Trystan Colon, these guys did a great job for us. I love the way these guys play. Love the way they develop. And of course Pat, he played a lot of football. And he can. He’ll probably jump right in as a starter and then Trystan will start. And from there we will see where we are.”
Mekari started a career high last season, his third year at Baltimore, with 12 games in right tackle. In December to Mekari signed a three-year, $15.5 million contract extensionHarbaugh would not commit to keeping the former undrafted free agent in proper tackle, saying, “A big part of his value is the fact that he can do any job.”
Two weeks ago, the Ravens signed right tackle Morgan Moses to a three-year, $15 million deal. General Manager Eric DeCosta said Moses would “fill in a gap for us in that right tackle position”, suggesting Mekari would return to an inside line position — he started 13 games at center overall in 2019 and 2020 — or enter the season as the team’s swing tackle.
Colon, on the other hand, has started three games at center and played 274 offensive snaps in his first two years at Baltimore.
The Ravens should go to training camp with at least one of their top returning pass rushers to practice. Harbaugh said the team’s athletic training staff told him full-back Odafe Oweh was “doing great” following off-season shoulder surgery.
“That shouldn’t be a problem at all,” said Harbaugh, who didn’t detail Oweh’s specific injury. “It’s one of those places where you come back pretty quickly. That shouldn’t be a problem for the training camp.”
Oweh, who had five sacks and 15 quarterback hits as a rookie, missed the Ravens’ last two games with a foot injury but also had to deal with a shoulder injury late in the season.
Harbaugh said in late January that full-back Tyus Bowser (career-high seven sacks) would tore his Achilles tendon in the team’s season finale, would return until the start of the regular season. He might as well be back before then.
“I think Tyus will be back for training camp; That’s my prediction,” Harbaugh said at his season-ending press conference. “That’s my schedule, so I’m sticking with it.”
- Running backs JK Dobbins and Gus Edwards could enter training camp on the list of unfit players, Harbaugh said. Both are recovering from cruciate ligament ruptures they sustained last preseason. “These guys are doing a good job,” Harbaugh said. “We’re probably going to play it a little safe with the guys and take our time and just bring them with us for the season.”
- Left tackle Ronnie Stanley is doing “fine in every way” as he recovers from his second straight ankle injury at the end of the season, Harbaugh said. Stanley recently met with new head athletic coach Adrian Dixon, who told Harbaugh that Stanley was “doing great.” According to Harbaugh, Stanley is expected to join the team’s offseason training program as his rehabilitation progresses. “There’s no way we’re going to push him back into training,” Harbaugh said. “We will try to bring him back for the season. That will be very important for us.”
- Malik Harrison will train at the inside linebacker and outside linebacker this offseason, Harbaugh said. Harrison, a 2020 third-round draft pick, started alongside Patrick Queen in five games at inside linebacker last season but struggled. After being hit in the left calf by a ricochet in late October, he spent some time training as an edge defender. With Bowser on a break, Harrison will share practice reps with Daelin Hayes on the strong outside linebacker. “He’s going to appear as an insider on the depth chart, like a ‘Mike’ guy,” Harbaugh said of Harrison. “I want to see him take that thing, go get that job.”
- Harbaugh said he hopes defenseman Derek Wolfe, who missed all of last season with back and hip injuries, will join the team’s offseason training program. “I know he’s a guy who trains and prepares. So if he doesn’t come back right away, he doesn’t have to. He will be ready to go. He would help us a lot. He’s a good player, a great guy. I really hope he will play for us again next year.”
https://www.mercurynews.com/2022/03/28/ravens-patrick-mekari-expected-to-step-right-in-at-center-olb-odafe-oweh-should-be-ready-for-training-camp-notes/ The Ravens’ Patrick Mekari expected to “get in right” in the middle; OLB Odafe Oweh should be ready for training camp